Chris, 46, lives locally to Silverdale Country Park and started volunteering with the Green Team in July 2021.
After finishing treatment for PTSD, including counselling and medication, Chris sought out voluntary work to get back into a routine and gain up to date work experience. Pandemic restrictions put his plans on hold for an entire year. When the restrictions began to lift, his support worker found him options for getting involved in outdoor work. Chris chose the Natural Neighbourhoods Green Team because it enabled him to get relevant certificates, as well as practical experience.
After all the challenges of the last few years, Chris has found the Green Team activities a very welcome opportunity to get out into nature, meet new people and learn new skills. Chris has particularly valued making new friends and being given the opportunity to learn from experts about skills such as Scything, first aid and bushcraft. Volunteering has benefited his physical and mental health. He said: “I’m 46 years old. I felt about 50 before I started but when I’m volunteering I feel like I’m in my thirties again!”
For Chris, volunteering with the Green Team is a stepping stone toward a brighter, greener future: “I’d love to become a group leader with a conservation charity – working with people with physical and mental health issues or just helping people get outside and learning about nature and the environment. I have a background in horticulture, and have learned more about woodland management, bushcraft and habitat management whilst part of the Groundwork team, which hopefully will give me the experience and knowledge I need to achieve my career goals.”
Natural Neighbourhoods is a targeted programme which helps young people into employment. The programme creates jobs and develops a programme of environmental traineeships to support the improvement and protection of local parks and the greenspaces that matter to the surrounding communities.
This project is funded by the government’s Green Recovery Challenge Fund. The fund is being delivered by The National Lottery Heritage Fund in partnership with Natural England and the Environment Agency.