New Spaces for Reflection in Nature to Be Created for People Grieving in Somerset and Wiltshire.

Dorothy House and Wiltshire Wildlife Trust have announced a new partnership to increase nature connectedness and wellbeing for people diagnosed with a life limiting illness or experiencing grief after the death of a loved one.

The partnership announcement follows the success of Wiltshire Wildlife Trust’s regular wellbeing programmes and events that help participants develop a deeper connection with nature and improve wellbeing.

With its recently enlarged Firefly Woods, sweeping lawn, views across the Wiltshire countryside and access to the Kennet and Avon canal, Dorothy House Hospice Care’s new partnership with Wiltshire Wildlife Trust will build on its vision to make death a part of life and commitment to providing the community with the connectedness to nature and compassion needed in a busy world.

The partnership will begin by connecting the grounds at the Dorothy House Hospice in Winsley to the Kennet and Avon canal path in the valley below. This will offer those visiting the Hospice, as well as the wider community, access in and out of the grounds, alongside access to free digital resources to support anyone experiencing grief.

Wiltshire Wildlife Trust will not only partner with Dorothy House by improving connectivity to the wider natural landscape, but will also help to further improve the biodiversity on the Hospice grounds through the creation of a beautiful wildflower meadow, which will attract pollinators such as butterflies and bees. These improved spaces that allow nature to flourish will provide a welcome solace to anyone experiencing grief and bereavement.

Wayne de Leeuw, Chief Executive of Dorothy House Hospice, says:

Our vision is to create a place where death is a part of life. By partnering with Wiltshire Wildlife Trust, we can enable more people in our community to find space to remember loved ones, reflect and pause from their busy lives in the peaceful and tranquil setting of our amazing grounds.”

Joanna Lewis, CEO of Wiltshire Wildlife Trust, says:

We are proud to announce this new partnership with Dorothy House Hospice, enabling us to offer solace and support to those facing bereavement and grief. Wiltshire Wildlife Trust has a strong history of helping people connect with nature, and we’ve seen the benefits it has for people’s health and wellbeing. By restoring biodiversity and increasing access to beautiful natural spaces, we can provide vital refuges for reflection and restoration.”

Nature has long been considered important for people’s mental health. For example, 73% of UK adults surveyed in the Mental Health Foundation’s YouGov poll said that connecting with nature was important in terms of managing their mental health during the pandemic.

For those who are grieving, connectedness in nature can offer many benefits and aid healing:

  • It can remind us of the continuum of life and that we and our loved one are still part of something greater than ourselves that goes on existing without us.
  • It provides a place and space to attend to our grief without intrusion from the ongoing demands of work, family and everyday responsibilities.
  • It can promote mindfulness, allowing the grieving person to anchor themselves in a moment by physically touching, smelling and listening to nature.
  • It allows us to disconnect from technology and find quiet, solitude and comfort in life rhythms that are natural, soothing and restorative.
  • It reminds us of the beauty that can be found all around us – even in our grief, it can be comforting to realise that beauty still exists.
  • The sights and sounds of nature can offer distraction from a cycle of difficult thoughts.

Dorothy House and Wiltshire Wildlife Trust will use The Five Pathways to connecting with nature approach, developed by the University of Derby, to improve community wellbeing at their sites.

The Rotary Club of Chippenham, Calne and Corsham is also committed to changing lives in communities which they support. A further partnership between Dorothy House, Wiltshire Wildlife Trust and The Rotary Club on future projects offers the opportunity to combine in-depth knowledge of the power of nature with additional services such as open access support to benefit people and nature across Wiltshire.