A south west London charity is fundraising to help people with mental health problems by encouraging them to connect with nature.
Dose of Nature focuses on allowing people to experience the mental health benefits of the natural world, through group therapy and workshops, and weekly outdoor walks with volunteers.
Following a GP referral, clients are introduced to a 10-week nature prescription book-ended with psychological assessments.
Operations manager Katie Fernie said: “It’s really important for us that people find nature that’s accessible and close to them. We help people discover urban nature spots that are closer to them.
“Obviously we are blessed with lovely green spaces in this borough, like Bushy Park and Richmond Park, but we also have little snippets of green space all around us that aren’t too far from anybody’s home.”
The charity’s clients have provided positive feedback of this prescription, as many feel the quick impact and mental health benefits of spending time with the natural world.
Following a difficult year for many during the pandemic, the charity is raising funds to accommodate the growing number of referrals they are receiving, as they want to avoid keeping vulnerable clients on waiting lists.
One of their most recent fundraising events took place on 2 October, with a sponsored half or quarter marathon walk (or run) through a trail along the Thames towpath, allowing more than 55 volunteers and fundraisers to enjoy the natural beauty of their local environment.
Fernie said: “Despite the weather we had a really good turn out, so it was wonderful.
“Everyone that we work with for our nature prescriptions has been learning about how incredible it is to spend time outside, even when the weather isn’t amazing.”
She added that the poor weather proved the charity’s ethos, as the rain did not cancel the celebratory event, and in true Dose of Nature spirit all those involved were, although sodden, engulfed in the natural world.
Dose of Nature’s Chief Executive and Lead Psychologist, Dr Alison Greenwood, said: “It was wonderful to see so many people support Dose of Nature in such dreadful weather conditions!
“It’s been a very important fundraiser and all money raised will go directly to helping more people to access our 10 week nature prescriptions.”
With plenty of gazebos set up to offer shelter, a fire pit (which Fernie admitted was a little hard to keep alive due to the downpour), a barbeque and some live music, the event at the end of the walk was a joyous celebration for all the charity does.
Fernie added: “It was wonderful, all afternoon we drank hot chocolate, had some wine, it was a wonderful celebration.
“We had some music from supporting musicians, some people read their poetry, and we also had a little tribute to one of our very first Dose of Nature clients who recently passed away.”
One of the volunteers involved in the event said: “I just wanted to say a huge thank you and well done for putting on such a brilliant day on Saturday, despite the rain!
“It must have taken a huge amount of preparation and work on the day to create such a warm and welcoming event… I hope that the fundraising results reflect the energy that went into the day.”
So far the event has raised over a thousand pounds, however their fundraising page remains open for another week.
This sponsored walk is the first annual event of its kind, with further fundraising events planned for later this year.