The Trust worked with 32 participants, many referred from mental health programmes and 55% of whom identified as disabled. Creating a project team with the right skills was key to supporting the needs and learning of participants who had been marginalised and were often vulnerable. Twenty days of engagement over a number of weeks allowed participants the space to gain new skills and make new connections. Qualitative and quantitative data evidenced improved health and wellbeing impacts.
Activities contributed to the management of two historically significant woodlands in Suffolk. The training in coppicing, pollarding and other forestry skills will secure a new generation of ‘higglers’ - Suffolk’s historic term for a forester - to preserve the county’s ancient and beautiful woodlands. As part of the project, the origins and practices of ‘The Higgler’ have been recorded in a booklet, to inform future trainees.
Participants have continued to use their new skills beyond the project: six now volunteer, two have secured employment and one has enrolled at agricultural college. Significantly, based on the evaluation, the Trust has been able to secure additional funding to deliver more training targeting people recovering from poor mental health.