Nature, Health and Wellbeing Conference

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Tuesday 5 June, 12:00pm-5:30pm, Ashton Park Estate, Bristol, BS41 9JN. 

A healthy environment is the foundation for a healthy society and healthy human life, and the wellbeing of ourselves is deeply interconnected to the wellbeing of all of nature.

With the Kings Fund estimating that 15 million people in the UK have a long-term condition and with the state of Nature Report saying that Britain’s nature ‘is in trouble’, is there a way to bring a collaborative solution to both crises? How can we make sure that nature is at the core of developing health & social care services? How can partnerships deliver on the ambitions set out in the 25yr environment plan, to help people and nature recover and flourish? These concepts and ideas will be explored in this interactive and innovative half-day conference bringing together interested individuals and professionals from both the conservation sector and the health sector. The conference promises to be a significant gathering of those people who are interested in, or are working in, the recovery and wellbeing of our human and environmental health.

The conference includes a networking lunch, strategic discussions, evidence and research and real examples, with actual experiences, of nature-based services that are operating in the West of England.

Where possible we will be outside in the beautiful setting of Ashton Park estate.

Hosted by the Natural History Consortium and Natural Academy, in association with West of England Nature Partnership (WENP) and Bristol Green Capital Partnership (BGCP).


Michéal Connors

Nature, Health and Wellbeing Conference is produced and chaired by Michéal Connors founder of Natural Academy. Michéal is co-developing training and support for people working with others in nature so that they are confident and skilled to deliver the multitude of ways that we can access the powerful benefits of nature connection. Natural Academy is an eco-social enterprise that sees the potential of training and education as a way of helping support solutions to the human health and environmental crisis.

Heather Elgar

Heather Elgar manages the West of England Nature Partnership (WENP). WENP is a cross-sector strategic partnership working to put nature at the heart of decision making in the West of England – in particular, across spatial planning, public health and economic development – to realise our vision of a West of England where nature, people and the economy are flourishing together.

Janice Gardiner

Janice has over 25 years of experience working in nature conservation within local Government and the third sector. She currently leads the Avon Wildlife Trusts’ Nature and Wellbeing Team, overseeing a number of large scale projects to enhance wildlife habitats in Bristol and provide opportunities for people to engage with nature within the city. This includes a 4 year Big Lottery funded programme, which has enabled us to develop a green care course in partnership with Natural Academy. The course aims to help people with long term health conditions and those experiencing low mood, anxiety and stress and is now being delivered at three locations across Avon. Their approach promotes a reciprocal relationship with nature to achieve sustainable outcomes for both people and wildlife.

Eleanor Lewis

Eleanor has worked for the Woodland Trust as the Community Engagement Officer for Fingle Woods since 2016. She might be biased but thinks it’s an incredible project to be involved in – a beautiful wood; an exciting and experimental partnership with the National Trust; and an opportunity to restore the ancient woodland whilst unearthing (quite literally) it’s fascinating history. Eleanor is responsible for managing and delivering the HLF Activity Plan which encompasses everything from running events and excavations, to managing volunteers and visitor experience. Recently her work has focused on making the woods more accessible for Hard to Reach groups and discovering the merits of Forest Bathing. She has a background in conservation having recently finished a Masters in Biodiversity, Conservation and Management at the University of Oxford.

Nicola Ramsden
Nicola was a biologist and botanist before training to be a Forest School leader. Her work as Health & Wellbeing Officer for the Forest of Avon Trust is focused on delivering the Woodland wellbeing programme, running activities delivering the health and wellbeing benefits of woodlands to groups including those with dementia, learning difficulties and mental health issues. She also works as an OT technician in mental health services where she leads nature and sensory activities.

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Rachel Tomlinson
Rachel has worked with the Forest of Avon Trust since 2011 as Woodland Wellbeing Practitioner, delivering training and running woodland activities for adults with learning disabilities, people with mental health needs and people with dementia and their carers. Before this Rachel worked for the BBC helping to engage people with the wildlife on their doorsteps through programmes such as Springwatch.

Samantha Walton

Samantha Walton runs the project ‘Cultures of Nature and Wellbeing’, which explores links between ecology, mental health, creativity and culture. She is a poet, a Reader in Modern Literature at Bath Spa University and an Arts and Humanities Research Council ECR Leadership Fellow.

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