Successful first year for Moor to Enjoy project

Tenpahis November marks the first anniversary of the Moor to Enjoy project. Aiming to increase the mental and physical wellbeing of participants, the project hosts community groups from outside of Exmoor, and enables them to use the open space of the moor as a health and wellbeing resource for the long term by increasing their knowledge of the landscape and the opportunities that the National Park provides.

To celebrate the achievements of the first year, beneficiaries of the project joined together with interested groups, and the projects funders, Somerset and Devon County Councils, at the Lynmouth Pavilion to share the impact that the project has had on them so far. Andrea Davis, Chairman of Exmoor National Park said “it was good to meet up with some of the groups who have benefited from this ground-breaking project on Exmoor, working with the two County Councils we have the only project like this in the country. With rising demand in the NHS it is vital that we all encourage greater responsibility in our own Health and Wellbeing. It is well evidenced that being outside in a natural environment is good for us, meeting the groups and hearing how they have been enjoying Exmoor was an uplifting experience.”

In the first year the project saw groups from Somerset Cancer Care, Live at Home Barnstaple, Wilcombe Primary School and many others visiting. In total 168 individuals were involved, 88% of whom reported having their ‘spirits lifted’ after visiting.

One participant said it was, So enjoyable in so many different ways, listening and being listened to, stimulating, feeling special’. Another, remarking on the range of experiences they enjoyed said ‘’this would not have happened had we not been introduced to Keeley – every experience has had positive and profound impacts on the health and well-being of our families, albeit just through shared laughter. We have been allowed to explore an area of beauty with security and are now becoming independent users of Exmoor as a school, as individual families and as a community. Thank you!”

Among other plans for the second year of this three year project, will be the launch of a green prescription scheme with Dunster Surgery that aims to increase the wellbeing of local people identified as having low mood by increasing their connection with the outdoors.

Louise Finnis, Somerset County Council Health Promotion Manager – mental health, said: “We know that being outside and enjoying nature is both enjoyable and good for us, so we are pleased to be working with Exmoor National Park to promote health in this way.

“There is growing evidence of the great benefits to health and wellbeing in understanding the potential of greenspace to support public health delivery. The Moor to Enjoy Project is reaching out to new groups of people promoting their wellbeing and increasing physical activity and we are very much looking forward to the next year of the project.”

 If you are part of a community project based just outside of the National Park and would like to be involved please contact Keeley Rolfe for more information. You can also follow her on Twitter @Keeley_ENPA or email Keeley to sign up for the newsletter.