New team challenges loneliness and isolation in Morecambe Bay

11 November 2021

Nature will be the prescription for problems of isolation and loneliness in communities around Morecambe Bay.

The Bay: A Blueprint for Recovery has recruited a 12-strong team to tackle mental health issues in Morecambe Bay after the global pandemic. The two-year project will be based in Wyre, Morecambe and Barrow – areas that have been identified as ones that will benefit hugely from the project.

Taking part in activities, such as beach cleans, nature walks and rock pooling, as well as having opportunities to learn new skills, participants will have the opportunity to connect with the wonderful nature of the Bay, as well as connecting with other people.

Holly, the trainee for Barrow, is excited to give back to the community that she grew up in – ‘I grew up on the Cumbrian coast and love anything sea related – rockpooling, scuba diving, surfing, or just watching the waves! I can’t wait to share the power nature has in improving wellbeing, whilst exploring the amazing environment we have in the bay with participants!’.

The project is funded by players of People’s Postcode Lottery and is a collaborative effort, created by partner organisations; Cumbria Wildlife Trust, The Wildlife Trust for Lancashire, Manchester and North Merseyside, The Eden Project, and Lancashire and South Cumbria NHS Foundation Trust. Utilising the unique skills of each of the partner organisations, the hope is that after the initial two-year delivery, the project will be rolled out to other coastal communities in the UK who are experiencing similar problems.

Rhoda Wilkinson, Nature and Wellbeing Manager for Lancashire, Manchester and North Merseyside Wildlife Trust said ‘We are facing huge collective challenges, both environmentally and as communities. At the same time, we are lucky to inhabit a world full of wonder and opportunity. We created The Bay because we believe that by working together we can have a greater impact both for people and nature.  We want everyone to experience the amazing and dynamic, yet naturally calming environment of the Bay, feel the benefit of being in nature with like-minded people, and be inspired to take action for natures recovery. As we continue to navigate the global pandemic, to be able to stop for a second and take a breath, and appreciate the health giving benefits of our coastal environment.’

Kevin O’Hara from Lancashire and South Cumbria NHS Foundation Trust said “This is such a fantastic project and we are delighted to be involved in it. Working with the two Wildlife Trusts and the Eden Project in this collaborative way combines the best of both worlds really for those who need this help and support.  The Bay team are amazing at helping people to reconnect with nature, and our clinical teams can provide extra mental health support when it is needed.”

The new team of 12 working on The Bay started in mid-September. Each delivery area has a Nature and Wellbeing Officer, a Community Engagement Officer, and a Trainee, with a central team of Project Manager, Business Development Officer and Communications Officer.

The project is also a landmark due to having the first Eden Project North employees on the team, covering the Morecambe delivery area.

Deb Woods, the Community Engagement Officer for Morecambe said “Since the very first announcement of the Eden Project coming to Morecambe Bay, I have been eagerly following its progress with great anticipation. I was so excited to hear about The Bay programme and I am over the moon to be part of the very first team of Eden employees on the ground in Morecambe, using my skills and passion to bring nature to life for the wonderful local community. I can’t wait to get out and about to meet everyone. You might catch me on the seafront dressed in my shark or squid costumes, or leading a fabulous nature ramble in the countryside!”

The Bay will create a new narrative for recovery around Morecambe Bay that can help inform and inspire the recovery of other coastal communities across the country. Helping people recover from the effects of Covid19 and resulting social isolation, the programme will see systemic change and lasting legacy through the creation of permanent hubs, a network of community mentors, and embedded NHS social prescribing referral pathways, as well as digital resources that will continue to engage and inspire the whole population.

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