Parks in Mind is a wellbeing initiative that provides free and fun volunteering opportunities across city centre parks in Bournemouth. Jointly developed by Public Health Dorset, Bournemouth Borough Council and Bournemouth Parks Foundation, Parks in Mind uses nature to promote physical and mental health and reduce social isolation, whilst improving some of Bournemouth’s struggling parks for people and wildlife.
Through participation, and using the therapeutic power of being out of doors, our group members can meet up and talk, support each other, and, ultimately, maintain and improve their own health, whilst helping to create better parks. We run 2-4 sessions every week and on average 15-20 people attend each week learning about and taking part in nature conservation, green exercise, nature study, art in the environment, relaxation and confidence building.
The activities give participants the opportunity to see other people or get out the house, which they might not have without it. This time frame provides volunteers with a sense of purpose and structure to their week.
We are working with Public Health Dorset to evaluate the project, aiming to demonstrate improvements in participant’s physical and mental health as a cost effective and natural addition to existing NHS treatment options.