Branching Out programme a success with service users

Branching Out programme a success with service users



Branching Out programme a success with service users

Participants from the Branching Out Group, run by Angus Alive Ranger Service and NHS Tayside, received completion certificates and John Muir Awards following a 12-week woodland activity course.

The Branching Out programme, established in 2007 by Forestry Commission Scotland, gives people with mental health issues the opportunity to try out a variety of different outdoor activities in a woodland setting and to work towards achieving a John Muir Award.

The group, all of whom attend community mental health services in Angus, worked together at Crombie Park near Arbroath for 12 weeks, engaging in a variety of environmental activities including ranger led walks, woodland management, nest box building, photography, butterfly and bee identification and creating environmental art.

The awards ceremony included a slide show with photos taken by participants documenting the activities they tried out and charting the development of the project. One participant wrote a poem about the experience, some shared articles and the group enjoyed a specially-made ‘Branching Out’ cake.

Alistair Serrils, support worker with Gowanlea Community Mental Health Team, said, “This is the fifth year this collaborative project has run, and this year was more popular than ever. The attendance rates were high and seven of the group intend to return to the park as volunteers.

“Feedback from participants has been overwhelmingly positive, with a lot of praise for the rangers, who made the whole experience so enjoyable, even on the days when the rain was pouring.

“Almost all of those who attended reported an improvement in their self confidence, self esteem and in their overall mental health. Many also noted improvements in socialising and attendance at other activities.

“It’s been amazing to see the change in people over the course of the 12 weeks. They have become more confident in themselves and more comfortable with each other in the group. As individuals engage in the activities, and learn new things, it improves their mood, and adds to their enjoyment of the course. The rangers continue to be really supportive and have made the course such a pleasurable experience for everyone.”


Gaynyr Dickson

NHS Tayside Communications

01382 740716