Nature Nurtures: Wild Walks Pilot.
Greenspace access, engagement and nature connection are all key factors that support physical and mental health and wellbeing. Although this is widely understood, groups of people still face significant barriers to accessing greenspaces, including those from ethnic minoritised backgrounds. Nature connection and time spent engaging with the greenspaces drop significantly in early adolescence. Young women are less physically active than their male counterparts and are at particularly high risk of poor mental wellbeing, and face significantly higher safety fears accessing the outdoors compared to men. Nature Nurtures: Wild Walks is a partnership pilot project between London Wildlife Trust and Black Girls Hike that delivered nature engagement and wellbeing-centred activities across Walthamstow Wetlands Nature Reserve. The initiative focussed specifically on young women from Black, Asian and minoritised ethnic backgrounds (aged 16-25), who are currently underrepresented in the environmental and outdoors sectors. Key aims of the pilot project were to support young women to:. * Overcome negative perceptions of who wild spaces are for. * Gain the confidence to get physically active in a way that is outward facing i.e., not associated with body image. * Foster a deeper sense of place and belonging. * Be active in and for their local natural environment. * Become ready for pathway opportunities into the conservation sector. * Develop a love of nature that will support stronger mental health in the future. * Become familiar with a new local nature reserve in London. * Understand the benefits that nature connectedness can bring for mental wellbeing. * Be empowered to independently visit nature reserves with friends & family. * Become aware of the work of Black Girls Hike, London Wildlife Trust, and London nature reserves The pilot scheme, supported through Natural England seed-corn funding, enabled strong partnerships to be developed between London Wildlife Trust and Black Girls Hike. The sessions positively supported the young women's wellbeing, and engagement with nature, promoted social opportunities for young women to find like-minded groups they can relate to, and encouraged diversity and equity in the environmental sector. The pilot demonstrated the benefits for young women from ethnic minoritised backgrounds and enabled the wider Nature Nurtures programme to gain additional funding and be offered across London.