Mindful Spring 2015 - Flintshire County Council

Spring 2015
Make a Nature
‘Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken,
over-civilised people are beginning to find
out that going to the mountains is going
home, that wilderness is an necessity,
that mountain parks and reservations are
not only useful as fountains of timber and
irrigating rivers, but as fountains of life’’
John Muir, 1901
As you can see from the above quote, the
concept of nature benefiting mental health is
not a new one. In fact, there are narratives
dating back centuries that link access to
natural landscapes as healing for the body and
This concept is important now more than ever
as advances in modern technology further
distance ourselves from our connection with
nature and the peace it can bring.
Regular contact with nature to promote
positive mental health is something that I
have been passionate about for many years.
I first learnt the concept of ‘EcoTherapy’
whilst studying Environmental Studies and
Geography at university. At the same time I
started volunteering with a local wildlife charity,
known as Deeside Urban Wildlife Group back
in them early days, (now it is known as NEW
Wildlife). Once I graduated I was employed by
the wildlife charity as their education officer,
where I taught children and adults about
species identification and habitat conservation.
In fact my expertise is in amphibian ecology
and conservation, specialising in the protection
of great crested newts!
During this time I was introduced to the
book ‘Silent Spring.’ The author, Rachel
Carson, is widely regarded as advancing the
environmental movement. She writes,
‘’There is something infinitely healing in the
repeated refrains of nature- the assurance
that dawn comes after night and spring after
I find this statement reassuring for my own
mental health. The quote illustrates the ways
in which we can draw strength from nature;
that no matter how dark the night or how bleak
the winter, change will inevitably follow.
Similarly, another quote by Rachel Carson
demonstrates an additional way that I can find
comfort and solace in nature.
‘’Those who contemplate the beauty of the
earth, find reserves of strength that will endure
as long as life lasts.’’
Finding that sort of resilience in difficult times
can be hard but I believe that spending time
outdoors can contribute to finding that inner
strength, by becoming mindful of the way that
life finds a way to overcome its boundaries.
For example, the way trees will twist or bend
to reach the best source of sunlight or the way
plants can grow and thrive on wasteland.
I have found this technique works for me
when I have been stressed or have been
experiencing difficulties in my life. I find that
it helps focus my mind so that I can make
sense of whatever it may be that troubles me.
I also find that being outdoors puts whatever
problems I have into perspective so that they
feel more manageable when compared with the
grand forces of nature.
I remember that I have been able to do this
from an early age. I often would go to Wepre
Park when my mum was unwell. Mum has
schizophrenia, and whilst in recovery now,
during my youth had numerous periods of ill
health, hospital admissions and would regularly
run away for months to avoid being sectioned.
One of the ways I found I could manage my
feelings around this was to find peace and quiet
outdoors. It was here I could reflect on what
was happening and gain acceptance, empathy
and understanding of my mum’s condition so
that I could support her and our family through
difficult times.
There is a growing body of evidence that states
contact with nature is beneficial for human
health and wellbeing. Studies have shown
that access to natural environments promotes
recovery from stress, anxiety and depression.
Benefits of exposure to natural environments:
- Reducing anger, frustration, aggression
-Increased sense of belonging and acceptance
- Increased socialisation, mental stimulation,
respect, love, usefulness, trust, self worth and
(Ecominds effects on mental wellbeing: an
Evaluation from Mind, 2013)
Recently, I have been working with Social
Links to promote the benefits of being in nature
through their healthy lifestyle course. The
walk we have been doing with people involves
focusing on our 5 senses, each in turn to
become more mindful of the world around us.
The theory is that instead of rushing from A to
B with our heads down, take your time, enjoy
your surroundings and become present in the
moment. We have had a lot of positive feedback
from people who have attended the course, one
participant said that they couldn’t remember
the last time they had laughed out loud outside
their family circle. This revelation really brought
home to me how nature and being outdoors can
lift the spirit and liberate us from the constraints
of modern living.
I hope that this article may encourage others
to take time out of their lives to go outside.
This doesn’t mean climbing Mount Snowdon or
kayaking up the River Dee, research suggests
that spending just 10 minutes a day in a natural
setting can make a big difference to mental
wellbeing. So next time you are outside, jump in
muddy puddles, kick through the leaves, smell
the freshly cut grass or feel the rain or sunshine
on your skin and look for the life
thriving around you.
Jacinta Challinor
Welcome to KIM4HIM!
For those of you I have not met yet… ‘Hello’,
my name is Andy; I am a second year student
social worker (from Glyndwr University) on
placement at KIM from November 2014 to
March 2015. I have been given the task of
setting up a project to support male mental
health in the community. I wanted to keep
the KIM name as it is such a well respected
service – welcome to the imaginatively named
KIM is a voluntary agency that has been
providing a female only mental health service
since 2002. Our new project is based on the
same ideals but is focused on a male only
There has been a highly positive reception to
the project from agencies and service users.
A number of positive outcomes have already
been achieved for people.
KIM4HIM aims to work alongside men to
improve social interaction and provide routes
to emotional well-being. We offer one-to-one
sessions, group activities, drop in groups,
sports and life skills based on outcomes of
connecting, being active, learning, giving
and taking notice. We have already started
5-a-side football in the Holywell Leisure
Centre. Activities in the coming months
include, cooking course, geocaching (high-tech
treasure hunting), walking, photography and
a behind the scenes visit to RAF Valley to see
from where Prince William flew the Sea King
Search and Rescue helicopters.
People can self-refer (if not accessing any
service) or be referred by other agencies.
All activities are currently based at our Hub in
For more information,
please contact Andy
on 01352 872189
Growing Places
The Way Forward
Spring is nearly here and the team at Growing
Places have some great plans for this year.
Firstly the vegetable boxes and flower beds
will need to be prepared as this year we will
be deciding on produce which can be used to
produce healthy meals. After some training
over the last few months individual staff from
a number of services will be organizing talks
on how to prepare and use the vegetables in
different dishes.
Jeanette Roberts who will be joining the team
shortly has been researching different plants
and flowers and with the help of a number
of individuals who attend Growing Places
she plans to start getting customer orders for
hanging baskets.
Recently there was a major piece of work
carried out to create a concrete path at the
back of our building to help keep the area safe.
This also accommodates the needs of some
individuals who use walking aids and would
like to be involved in the above projects. When
people were asked what was the best change
over the last year many of them said the table
in the kitchen area as this allows them to sit and
have their lunch without eating it on their knee
and some people like to sit and read or just sit
round the table and talk!!!
There are three areas of work conducted by
Growing Places
1 The Community Gardening Team who have
just ordered some new machinery to help
improve the quality of their work and give the
service a more business like approach. This
machinery was purchased from the money
they earned last year after some discussions
on what was needed. This group usually goes
out to customers in the local community each
day. Also they maintain the grass and hedges
of surrounding Council - owned areas, having
successfully tendered for the business.
2 Polytunnels and vegetable boxes are used
to grow produce and flowers. This year the
opportunity will be available for people to
link in with Coleg Cambria and gain some
qualifications in horticulture while in the safe
working environment of Growing Places. This
project will benefit anyone who would like
to have an induction into horticulture before
applying to college, looking for employment or
just enjoying taking part as a hobby.
3 Repair and Restore Garden Furniture. This
project has been ideal during the winter months
when it is too cold to go out gardening. It has
sparked an interest for some people who have
never been involved in this kind of work before.
We are all looking forward to continuing to
develop this project
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Green Gym
Physical activity is good for your body but it’s
great for your mind too. Research shows that
exercise releases chemicals in your brain that
make you feel good. Taking physical activity
does not mean you have to join an expensive
gym. The Green Gym is all about getting
outdoors and enjoying exercise at the
same time.
There are many ways to be active and help
improve your mental health. Taking part in
outdoor activities is very popular and a great
way of meeting people.
Some benefits of exercise are:
Energy boost
Improved sleep
Sense of achievement
Better social life
Having fun
Here are some details of outdoor opportunities
that you can get involved in.
KIM Community Gardening Group:
Kim Hub Holywell www.kim-inspire.org.uk
01352 872189
Deeside Naturalist Society: Connah’s Quay
£12.00 annual membership
01244 303404
Social Links: Cycling Group,
Contact 01244 810185 for more information
Walkabout Flintshire: A voluntary organisation
who run regular walks for different abilities
across the county.
Website www.walkaboutflintshire.com
Flint Castle and Coast: Coastal Walk along the
Dee Estuary
Clwyd Walks: Walks open to everyone, will suit
all abilities led by trained volunteer walk leaders.
Contact 01352 810164.
Geocaching: This is a relatively new digital
outdoor treasure hunting game using GPS.
If you have a smart mobile phone you can
download the app and follow the instructions
and attempt to fine the geocache (container)
hidden at the location. You could do this with
family and friends. It is fun for all ages and adds
something different to a walk outdoors.
Due to so many of us now using Social Media
to communicate, the Flintshire Recovery,
Wellbeing and Education Programme has set
up a Facebook page that is regularly updated
with all the latest news about courses that are
delivered by various statutory and voluntary
organisations. This successful partnership
provides training opportunities to anyone
resident in Flintshire with a mental health issue
and their carers.
Here are some Step by Step instructions
on how to Contact us.
Firstly make sure you have a Facebook
Log onto Facebook
Click search icon, type in :
Wellbeing through Education – Lles drwy
‘Like’ our page and get involved.
Some other organizations’ pages that you may
find interesting are listed below:
- Flintshire Mind
- Insight Therapies and Training
- Flintshire Local Voluntary Council
- Unllais
- Citizens Advice Bureau
- Step Up, Step Out. A non-governmental
Hear Here Our group for our services
Hello and welcome! This is a new group
for people who use mental health support services.
We provide an opportunity for discussion and a
forum to have your opinions and views heard.
We will be meeting on:
Tuesday 17th March at 10.30 am at
Chapel Arts, Tyddyn St., Mold (behind Tescos).
Please come along and join in!
For further information please contact:
Kay Brookes 01352 730822
Mental Health Support to Women.
Contact: 01352 872189
Email: [email protected]
KIM4HIM men-only service
Community Advice and Listening Line
Free and confidential mental health
help line covering the whole of Wales.
Contact: 0800132737
Flintshire Mind
Information and support for mental
Contact: 01352 757637
Email: [email protected]
Flintshire Advocacy Service
Provides an independent, confidential
and free advocacy service for people
experiencing mental health problems
living in Flintshire.
Contact: 01352 759332
Email: [email protected]
Hafal supports the carers of people
with a serious mental illness and also
provides more intensive support to
carers and families at times of crisis.
Karen Jones or Janet Fletcher
01244 834923
CAB (Citizens’ Advice Bureau)
Provides free, confidential advice
and information on social welfare
and law.
08444 772020
Speaking Out Flintshire
Contact: 01352 752471 or
07770 900847
Community Mental Health Teams (CMHT)
Primary Care Tiers 1& 2
Mold and Flintshire: Pwll-Glas: 01352 750252
Aston House: Deeside: 01244 834921
County Manager
Gordon Kennedy (Based at Aston House):
Deputy Manager
Mairead Fripps-Jones
Gill Strong
Andrew Palombella
Gail Griffiths
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Articles for the Summer 2015 edition to
be submitted by beginning of
May 2015.
Benefits Update
If you need to understand what is
happening, either to your benefits or to
someone you care about, download the
free new benefits pack at:
Jacqueline Vaughan-Thomas
Jane Berry
Sue Davies
Rhian Evans
Jennifer Ward
Sian Jones
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published in good faith and without
Constraints mean that submitted articles
may be edited. The editorial committee
reserves the right to accept or reject
submissions, subject to discussion.
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