A new outreach service that connects adults and school leavers with environmental projects and outdoor activities has been launched by two friends.
Oliver Connolly and Michael Beadle founded Grow Wild Outreach CIC to follow their dream of working to support people with disabilities as well as helping with environmental projects.
Relocating from his native London to live close to his partner Lorna's family in Loddington, the Grow Wild team have used their years of experience in supporting managing specialist services, setting up environmental volunteering projects and running successful horticultural business.
They have compared the service as like a forest school for adults with no permanent base or HQ.
Oliver said: "Our projects could be seen as a more advanced version of 'forest school', whereby adults with barriers can engage in activities that instigate true personal and environmental development.
"The detrimental effects of isolation on physical, mental and spiritual health have been clearly documented and further highlighted by the recent pandemic.
"Grow Wild offers a safe, fun and immersive experience in which individuals are able to reconnect with their physicality, the local community and with nature itself."
This summer the group will be supporting projects with the Woodland Trust, river clearing at Kettering and Geddington, hooking up with other environmental groups with their work with Weekly Hall Woods near Kettering and Bradlaugh Fields and Barn in Northampton.
The group are currently fundraising for an eight-seater van to carry tools, equipment to enable them to access the countryside locations.
All of the group's activities take place outdoors with clients taking part in lake and river clearance, beach-combing, planting native plants and trees to improve biodiversity, habitat building and contributing to the local community gardens, parks and commons.
Oliver, 42, said: "We take activities at the pace of the client. We take it slowly and work together."
Activities also include rambling, cycling and other forms of exercise which boost cardiovascular and respiratory health as well as mental wellbeing.
Oliver said: "Nature is a fantastic healer. We believe in giving back to the earth and helping it to heal in return. Working towards increased biodiversity in our local area. Activities are designed to be therapeutic, breaking down the negative impacts of isolation and helping to build confident individuals with improved mental health and a developed practical skill set. We believe in togetherness."