The Bay – wellbeing project helping to cope with cost of living stress

25 April 2023

The cost of living crisis is causing many people to experience financial-related anxiety and stress for the first time. 

Since the beginning of the year, The Bay: A blueprint for recovery has been helping people to deal with the mental effects that have come as a result of the increase in prices in shops and for gas, electricity and petrol.

Alex and Sally at Arndale

The project’s new hub in the Arndale Centre in Morecambe has really jump-started the response by the team, with the hub registered as a “warm space”, where people can grab a hot drink and get out of the cold.  

The project has also registered with FareShare, meaning that supermarkets donate surplus food to the hub, which is then given out for free. The hub has seen huge popularity with 750 people stopping by and over 200kg of food being given out so far, on top of the regular wellbeing sessions and community events that are held there. 

At its core, The Bay helps people to get into nature, and to understand how nature can improve wellbeing. The project is supported by the expertise of the four organisations who work together to manage it – The Wildlife Trust for Lancashire, Manchester and North Merseyside, The Eden Project, Cumbria Wildlife Trust and Lancashire and South Cumbria NHS Foundation Trust, and has been funded with support from players of the People’s Postcode Lottery. 

Down in Fleetwood, the project gained additional funding from the NHS Cost of Living Grant through Wyre Council, which has allowed Chloe and Mike from the Wyre team to offer a course in outdoor cooking.  

Food prep at Wyre Estuary

This course teaches people how to cook simple meals, as well as a bit of basic foraging and growing, all while keeping the integral underlying themes of nature and wellbeing present throughout. 

Looking out from Fleetwood across the glistening water of Morecambe Bay towards Barrow, hot meals; foraging; and growing have also been a key part of wellbeing sessions, and it’s a part that’s been met with excitement from the groups, eager to learn some new skills and share a meal. Simple safe foods such as nettles have been introduced to people for the first time, with advice about responsibility and sustainability being an important aspect. 

Giving people the opportunity to connect with nature and blue and green spaces through practical sessions offers a safe and supportive environment for people to engage with the natural world, learn new skills, and improve mental health and wellbeing. 

Mike and Chloe with fire

“We know that finances can take a significant toll on mental health,” said Kirsty Tyler, Nature and Wellbeing Communications Officer from The Bay, “We can see the effect it’s having on people who come to our sessions. 

“So it’s been important to acknowledge this, and as a wellbeing programme, help in any way we can to support our community. Plenty of research has shown that coastal communities like Wyre, Morecambe and Barrow already experienced more deprivation than similar sized towns inland, so it’s hitting these areas hard.” 

Spending time in natural environments such as parks, forests, and other green spaces can have a measurable impact on symptoms of anxiety, depression, and stress. Furthermore, exposure to blue spaces, such as lakes, rivers, and oceans, can have a particularly strong positive impact on mental wellbeing – the calming effect of water can lead to reduced anxiety and increased feelings of relaxation. 

You can learn more about The Bay’s work around Morecambe Bay and how to join their wellbeing sessions at T

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