One of my first tasks as a trainee was to organise a FEVA event – that’s a Forum for Environmental Volunteering Activities – half a day full of local speakers and workshops to share ideas around promoting green health in later life.
Abby Boultbee from Edinburgh and Lothian Greenspace Trust, described the success of the ‘Branching Out’ programme of woodland activities, working with people living with mental health problems. The programme will be expanded for people with dementia and carers this year!
After Abby, Michelle Kirkbright from the West Lothian Council’s Health Improvement Team presented all their fantastic healthy activities and groups – from Health in Later Life networking groups, buddy walks to specially adapted bikes for people with disabilities.
Roll up, roll up…Speaker’s corner was next up, a flurry of stalls and 5 minute presentations from local community groups and organisations showcasing their work.
“Put on your wellies and get off your tellies”
was the mantra of the Stoneyburn Bents Future Vision Group. Eric Burton, representative from the group, showcased that getting older doesn’t mean you can’t have fun outside. And all you need is a local community garden, raised beds and 100s of sunflowers!
Alive and Kickin coordinator Leigh Lauder shared Broxburn United Football Club’s inclusive over 50s programme, which included community walks and walking football!
Next up, Aleks Pacula shared a digital health project called Living it Up aimed at the over 50s by the NHS and Volunteer Edinburgh. A website designed to access healthy information at the click of a button.
Finally, Lisa Drinnan from West Calder and Polbeth Community Garden, an oasis between a steel railway and main road, shared the group’s plans to build a memory garden bringing the generations together to grow (watch this space!).
After talking about getting outside, it was time to actually get outdoors and showcase some outdoor activities. Me and Rebecca Cairns (who is working on potatoes and aphids as a Natural Talent trainee!) led a walk on the wild side with short intro to citizen science – nature recording and lichen spotting.
Anna Mayo (who did fantastic work on a similar traineeship in Stirling a couple of years back) led the second workshop based around nature on a palette and an exploration of the natural world through art.
To round off the day, Nicki Laing from the Physical Activity for Health Research Centre, shared the benefits of getting outdoors and active for the mind and body. Walking being the most popular activity.
“Being part of a social network such as a walking club can help alleviate the loneliness” (Age UK).
Finally, David Graham, TCV development officer gave an intro into the project I’ll be working on over the next year in West Lothian.
It was clear that everyone at the FEVA forum had a passion to help reduce the social isolation of older adults and make sure green spaces are open to all.
While it might be known that volunteering makes you feel better as your ageing – volunteering outdoors boosts that benefit!