Spotlight on our over-55s programme

Spotlight on our over-55s programme

For the last 11 weeks we have been busy running our much loved over-55s programme, ‘Silver Birches’, at the beautiful community garden Barnwood N2 (watch this video, courtesy of Leo Smith, to find out about its journey from wasteland to wilderness!) Over the weeks we have watched our very-early-spring, bloom and blossom and fruit, and summer has brought us a multitude of red currants, hanging in juicy bunches all around the garden. It has been a joy to see some familiar smiling faces returning to these weekly sessions.

Urban Forest Collective teamed up with Barnwood N2 and Leo Smith to design and run 12 weeks of nature-based arts, crafts and bushcraft activities that have included such wonderful things as fire lighting, willow weaving, outdoor cooking, spoon whittling, sawing and bird box making, raw forest cacao, foraging, painting and drawing, charcoal making, moth watching, Qi Gong, wood splitting, planting, balm making and kokedama – moss hanging baskets – all to the soundtrack of laughter and birdsong!

Nestled among the trees, and surrounded by wildlife, we have spent mornings and afternoons in good company, providing some much needed ‘me time’ for those who didn’t stop, even during lockdown; and some much needed connection with others and with the natural world, for those who have spent lockdown alone.

We hope in our work with over 55s that we can support people to feel more connected to themselves, to others, and to nature. We hope that regular weekly sessions help to reduce loneliness and isolation and build confidence and comfort in the outdoors. We have witnessed participants who have never made a fire, light one from a spark; we have seen participants who have never done woodwork, whittle a spoon. We have been part of fascinating conversations around an unusual moth sighting, shared our knowledge about plants and experienced the magic of discovering and learning in nature with others.

“Silver Birches has changed my outlook on life, made me reaffirm my values, and connect me with my neighbours. Thank you all so very much for making this possible.” – Celia

We have heard the sessions described as me-time, life changing, uplifting, and the thing I look forward to.

We know how important it is to spend time outdoors, and we know how important it is to spend time with others, and we hope our work with over-55s does just that.

Participants from Silver Birches are committed to continue meeting at Barnwood, once the program is over, to share skills of their own, make food, and help out with planting. We couldn’t be happier about this, it’s a celebration of the legacy we wanted to leave behind – building community. It also frees us to expand and take this popular programme on the road and to another lovely location – watch this space!