Greenock group branch out to enjoy local woodlands

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This week, 12 participants in Greenock became the 50th group to take part in Forestry Commission Scotland’s (FCS) Branching Out programme.

The group, made up of both inpatients and outpatients from Ravenscraig Hospital, spent 12 weeks at Clyde Muirshiel Regional Park where they took part in a series of outdoor activities as part of FCS’s commitment to encouraging people to use their local woodlands. 

As well as enjoying nature walks and trails, the participants also planted trees, built bird and bat boxes and learnt basic wilderness survival skills. Since completing the course, the participants were also honoured at a special ‘graduation ceremony’, which they enjoyed with their friends and family.

Since launching in 2007, the Branching Out programme has been a huge success for FCS, allowing the organisation to encourage the use of woodland space for adults who use mental health services.

Kirsty Cathrine from Forestry Commission Scotland said:

“This programme has been a terrific success for the participants and we are pleased that they have had a very positive experience exploring the great outdoors of Clyde Muirshiel Regional Park.

“Over the last 4 years, we have used the Branching Out scheme to successfully introduce adults with mental health issues to their local woodland and help them to enjoy outdoor activities and educate them on what is around us. It also helps to build their confidence and their skills by giving them the opportunity to interact with other people and learn about the forest environment.”

The programme has continued to expand right across Central Scotland Green Network area where many partners are working together to transform the central belt for people and business.

Clyde Muirshiel Regional park manager, Charlie Woodward said:

“Health improvement is an important priority for the Park Authority, with an increasing emphasis on mental health. We continue to maintain and recognise the value of green spaces, woodland and outdoor settings for mental health benefits & wellbeing for all our visitors.

“There are numerous advantages to the Park Authority and particularly Regional Park staff through the development of new skills and competence that enable successful delivery of Branching Out.

“We would like to thank the Commission for developing what we think is the leading model in Scotland. We are delighted to work together with them and other partners, helping to make a quantifiable difference to people's lives.”

Notes to news editors

1. Forestry Commission Scotland works as the Scottish Government's forestry directorate

2.   Notaichean

Tha FCS ag obair mar bhuidheann-stiùiridh coilltearachd Riaghaltas na h-Alba agus a' riaghladh nan 660,000 heactairean ann an Oighreachd na Coille Nàiseanta, a' dìonadh, a' cumail smachd air agus a' leudachadh nan coilltean gus buannachdan a thoirt dha coimhearsnachdan, an eaconamaidh agus, ag obair an aghaidh atharrachadh gnàth-shìde.

Airson agallamhan anns a' Ghàidhlig, cuiribh fios gu Oifigear Leasachaidh Gàidhlig a' Choimisean, Louise NicBheathain air 01463 725 038

3. Media enquiries to Steve Williams, Forestry Commission Scotland press office 0131 314 6508.