This week we were lucky enough to be invited to attend a wellbeing session with The Bay at Rossall Point, Fleetwood.
The Bay is a nature and wellbeing programme, offering people living in Morecambe Bay the opportunity to get outdoors, connect with nature and take part in a range of activities which cover the 5 ways to wellbeing which are being active, connecting, taking notice, keeping learning and giving back.
The Bay was launched as a two year programme in 2021 to tackle the feelings of isolation and loneliness after the global pandemic. Created by partner organisations including The Wildlife Trust for Lancashire, Manchester and North Merseyside, The Eden Project, Cumbria Wildlife Trust and Lancashire and South Cumbria NHS Foundation Trust, the project is funded with support from players of People's Postcode Lottery through the Postcode Recovery Fund.
The nature and wellbeing sessions are small group sessions that give attendees the opportunity to partake in a variety of different activities whilst being outdoors in the fresh air, helping the local natural environment and connecting with other people.
After being introduced to the group, we all started the session by walking together towards the Rossall Observation Tower, taking in the beautiful coastal view and the brisk breeze.
After arriving at the tower, we begin to improve the sand dunes by clearing unwanted vegetation which had started to block a pathway. Our leaders Mike and Chloe were both very knowledgeable on all the local plants, birds and wildlife, and the group enjoyed listening to their facts and stories whilst being active and clearing the pathway area. Standing back and admiring your good work really gives you a sense of pride in knowing you’ve helped to make the area better for visitors and wildlife alike.
Next it was break and brew time and the opportunity to take advantage of some left over Halloween sweets as a treat!
One of the attendees told me:
“I really enjoy coming to the wellbeing sessions and spending time in the outdoors, it’s hard to explain why the sessions help me so much but once you come to a session you can feel the positive energy. You can’t help but leave the session feeling better about yourself. I enjoy the sessions so much that I am now becoming a volunteer myself.”
The second part of the session involved foraging on the beach for items which could be used to decorate a coastal lantern. With the clocks going backwards last weekend the group recognised the importance of bringing light into their homes.
Walking on the beach also brings a sense of being grounded to nature which is so important for overall wellbeing. We mainly collected different types of seaweed from the beach including bladder wrack, spiral wrack and hornwrack and headed back to the observation tower to decorate our lanterns.
Mike McDonnell, Nature and Wellbeing Officer commented:
“The healing properties of nature are amazing and totally free! We want to give people the tools and confidence to access nature wherever and whenever they want, for their own wellbeing and to celebrate the wonderful wildlife on their doorstep.
Ultimately, we hope that people will be inspired to take action for nature's recovery as well as their own."
Many of the sessions have a conservation aspect to them, these could include searching for species to report on or cleaning up an area of the countryside. They always link back to the 5 ways of wellbeing, be active, give back, connect, keep learning and take notice.
Walking back to the meeting point along the stunning coastline you can clearly see and feel the peer support the group offers and the genuine friendships which can form. The Bay is succeeding to focus strongly on prevention and improving mental health and wellbeing for its users.
Another of the attendees, whose second session this was said:
“I’m enjoying getting out in the fresh air, the group gives me a purpose and a focus for the day. I love where I live near the coast so sharing this with other likeminded people is special to me. I’m already looking forward to next week, I’ve been telling all my friends and family how important and vital this group is.”
Visit The Bay project website for more information about their incredible work - you will also find referral forms and contact details.