News from Actif Woods Wales

Actif Woods Wales, the woodland based health and wellbeing Social Forestry project run by Coed Lleol, runs woodland well-being projects in 9 locations throughout Wales. This month we hear from Neil and Maggie, who are the Woodland Mentors for Neath Port Talbot (NPT).

The last 12 months have been a whirlwind for us in Neath Port Talbot where we have been combining brand new Actif Woods programs with an NPT council project titled ‘Working With Nature’, where we have been engaging with local communities and encouraging wider use and interaction with local wild spaces throughout the borough.

The Working with Nature project complements the Actif Woods program and provides a viable exit route for participants. Having the ability to encourage a cross-over between projects has really benefited our group as the variety of activities and regularity between programs offers continuous, and much needed support.

The Working With Nature project is a 3 year project run by the Countryside and Wildlife team of NPTCBC and supported by the Welsh Government Rural Communities RDP which is jointly funded by the European Union as part of the Common Agricultural Policy through the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and the Welsh Government. Welsh Government Single Revenue Grant, Neath Port Talbot County Borough Council and 2 local Councils: Dyffryn Clydach CC and Pontardawe Town Council.

The Actif Woods project continued in earnest in June 2017, where a new program was carried out in Banwen, a more isolated region of the borough. It was an immediate success, reaching out to and involving over 30 people and introducing new skills, activities and a passion for spending time in the woods.

After a short break, we are back in action and in the middle of a second program in Banwen that will see us run through until March 2018 and will link in with a new Working with Nature ‘Well-Being group’ that will provide regular activities for the group that will keep the benefits of nature working for the group in the long term.

Feedback from the group has been wonderful and shows how much Actif Woods is needed and how much of a benefit it can have for some people. One of our participants told us they would be sitting in a corner under their duvet if it weren’t for Actif Woods and we have seen a huge difference in some, with confidence growing and anxiety reducing.

Coed Lleol also continues with work developing and promoting the Social Forestry OCN courses, as well as shorter woodland skills training

For more information on the Neath Port Talbot project, or any of the Actif Woods Wales projects, please visit the Coed Lleol website or email jocooper@smallwoods.org.uk. You can also follow us on Twitter @ActifWoodsWales and Facebook.