Back in August, we interviewed Jane Mohan from Green Light Trust on the fantastic work the charity had been doing to provide everyone from those with a history or drug and alcohol misuse and survivors of domestic violence, with a space to, as Jane put it, “take incremental steps, little by little, week by week.”

Activities on the holistic courses include, cooking and learning healthy meals, wood crafting, woodland conservation and group peer support. The courses are built to be accessible and beneficial to any age. Participants include: ex-service personnel, ex-offenders, long term unemployed and those on probation.

Green Light Trust also provide specific courses designed and catered towards creating safe, supportive spaces for women who have been in or still are, in abusive relationships (these are women only), for those recovering from addiction, as well as courses for children and young people who have special educational needs, who are unable to attend mainstream education and young people who have been involved in gang violence.

A women's group with Green Light Trust at the River Yare.

The GLT motto is that they “work with participants, not on them”

On the 18th of October, the Green Light Trust announced that it was quadrupling it’s expansion plans in Norfolk after an initial pilot programme in Strumpshaw Fen in April 2021. This wider expansion will run across the county, five days a week, across three additional sites to meet the demand of the burgeoning mental health crisis in the county. This is the first venture outside of Green Light Trust’s original home county project.

Green Light Trust (GLT) works in partnership with local landowners, such as the RSPB and local authorities to obtain appropriate locations, GLT then brings in their team and the previous experience to deliver their life changing programmes.

“Access to green space is not equal”

GLT makes a point of working with those in the 5% of most disadvantaged people in our community. In our interview with Jane Mohan of GLT in August, she made it clear that GLT sees and acknowledges that “access to green space is not equal”, made mention of the fact that “40% of those from Black and Ethnic Minority backgrounds live in the most green-deprived areas compared to 14% of white people”.

While Tom Brown, CEO of GLT said of their expansion into Norfolk, “The green and beautiful landscape hides widespread deprivation, inequality, and lack of access to nature which we and our partners are determined to change." 

"The pandemic has had significant impact on the mental health of 1 in 4 of us and while it is too soon to evaluate what the long-term impacts on the most vulnerable, we do know that our programs transform lives.  Our expansion in Norfolk will go some way to addressing their needs so that they can build back their lives better for a future which is hopefully both greener and brighter”

Brown finished by spotlighting their partners such as the RSPB (The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds), “It is through working with our key partners like the RSPB that the GLT is able to transform lives and save the health and social services of this country well over twenty times the amount that we spend to support each of the 2,000 participants we see each year.  We are really grateful for that support.”

This push toward a more holistic, ‘green care’ informed way of treating people with a diverse range of mental heath difficulties is seeing greater success than ever before. As the NHS struggles to keep up with the demand of the ever increasing number of people seeking treatment, it is through these local, social prescribing efforts that many are receiving the support they need as well as finding community where they might not have before.

Emma Marsh, RSPB Director spoke fondly of their partnership with GLT, noting how the charity connects people with nature who wouldn’t normally get the opportunity to do so:

“Participants who attend GLT courses in Suffolk - and now in Norfolk - are often those in our society who are disengaged from the natural world and might not think a bird reserve is for them. GLT’s inclusive programs reach out to a broader audience, reconnecting them with nature and delivering measurable benefits for mental health, general wellbeing, and recovery from addiction.  We are in ongoing discussions with the GLT to identify further sites where we can combine our skills and resources and work together to support more people across the country.”

On November 10th at 6pm, Mental Health Today will be hosting – ‘How Can Trauma Inform Our Workplaces and Schools?’ – a MHTLive webinar. Register now and develop your knowledge of Adverse Childhood Experiences and trauma, and learn how schools and workplaces can be transformed into centres of recovery and healing.'