Flourish in Nature

Volunteering outdoors set to help Devon’s people and nature to flourish

Volunteering in outdoor activities and environmental tasks is set to play an important role for people recovering from substance misuse in Devon.

A new project, Flourish in Nature, led by EDP Drug & Alcohol Services, will support people who are recovering from drug and alcohol misuse by coaching them to become voluntary outdoor activity leaders. These trained leaders can then go on to help others in their community use physical outdoor activity and learning about Devon’s amazing natural world to address their own health issues.

Sport England’s ‘Opportunity Fund’ announced they would be supporting the three-year project through a £150k grant. The Fund aims to empower people to volunteer in order to tackle the challenges their communities face. Other partners in the successful bid are Active Devon and the Devon Wildlife Trust who will be providing a wide range of expert support around volunteering, physical activity and environmental education.

EDP Drug & Alcohol Services run ‘Flourish cafes’ – social, creative spaces where people both with and without ‘lived experience’ of substance misuse, recovery and mental ill health can come and discover ways to connect, learn, get active, take notice and give back to their community. The cafes can be found across Devon in Exeter, Tiverton, Newton Abbot, Ilfracombe, Exmouth and Barnstaple.

Flourish in Nature is the next step in providing wider opportunities for volunteers to develop their own skills and confidence, and experience improved health and wellbeing. The project will also build into Sport England’s wider aim of exploring how the outdoors and the environment may motivate people to get involved in volunteering and how volunteering can help create new opportunities for people to get active.

Sport England’s Director of Sport, Phil Smith, said: “When people volunteer in sport and physical activity there is a dual benefit – volunteers help others in their communities get active, as well as benefitting themselves. Volunteering can do wonders for job and career prospects, mental health and making friends.

“That’s why volunteering sits at the heart of Sport England’s new strategy, Towards an Active Nation. We’re delighted to be helping Flourish in Nature enable more volunteers to be the catalysts for change in their neighbourhood”.

It is well known that recovering from addiction is a long process and filling the void left by addiction can be one of the key hurdles to overcome. With these new opportunities for regular volunteering on offer which enables people to enjoy outdoor spaces, in social settings it is hoped that Devon will be leading the way in its recovery services.

Nik Sutherland, Flourish project lead at EDP Drug & Alcohol Service said: “We see first-hand every day the enormous power of volunteering to people who are in recovery. Having the expertise of Active Devon to provide mentoring and coaching support to our volunteers and the passion of the Devon Wildlife Trust to inspire we know that this project is going to have a hugely positive impact on our service users”

The Flourish in Nature Project will launch formally in Newton Abbot and the team is seeking its first batch of volunteers to become outdoor volunteers who can then lead others to be active and confident in nature.

“Active Devon is so delighted to be part of this project” said Jason Wood Workforce Programme Manager at Active Devon. “We have worked with EDP on a number of projects and have seen how transformational people’s journeys can be when they are given the right tools to manage and control their own lives. Flourish in Nature has direct links with a number of our other projects that examine how being active in nature benefits the mind and body”.

Flourish in Nature is one of 37 newly announced projects which will be testing various different approaches, with the ultimate aim of growing and diversifying volunteering.

“We know that contact with the natural world can make a huge difference for people’s health and wellbeing. Flourish in Nature gives us the chance to work with volunteers who may never have noticed Devon’s amazing wildlife or benefitted from it. This project will inspire them with knowledge and appreciation of their natural surroundings right here in Devon” said Jasmine Atkinson, Wildlife Communities Officer at Devon Wildlife Trust.

Work carried out by Sport England has shown that specific groups of the population are less likely to volunteer in sport – such as women, disabled people, people from BME groups and people on a low income. This Devon partnership is seeking to show that volunteering is for everyone and can lead to sustained change which impacts positively on many people’s lives.

For more information about Flourish cafes visit www.edp.org.uk/flourish or email flourish@edp.org.uk to register your interest in getting involved.


About EDP Drug & Alcohol Service

EDP Drug & Alcohol Services is a charity working in the South West that supports people who face complex issues including substance misuse and mental ill health along with harmful, addictive and offending behaviour. The charity works in prisons, hospitals, in its own recovery hubs and in the community to offer multiple opportunities for positive life changes. Funding comes primarily through national and local government grants but it also runs a number of social enterprises that encourage people in recovery to design, create and sell their own goods.

Visit the EDP Drug & Alcohol Service website at www.edp.org.uk

About the Devon Wildlife Trust

Devon Wildlife Trust is the county’s leading environmental charity, with 33,000 members. The charity manages 50 nature reserves across Devon, including a range of beautiful landscapes such as woodlands, meadows, wetlands and heaths.  Devon Wildlife Trust relies on charitable donations, grants and the generous support of its members and the general public to raise more than £4million every year. Money raised is spent maintaining our work for wildlife conservation and education in Devon, for present and future generations.

Visit the Devon Wildlife Trust website at devonwildlifetrust.org

About Active Devon

Active Devon is a community focussed, not for profit organisation inspiring and supporting the people of Devon to lead active lifestyles, whether that’s getting active for the first time or staying active throughout their lives.

Active Devon works with an extensive network of partner organisations and individuals to:

  • Develop the right opportunities for people to start and stay being active.
  • Support existing partners and providers to promote and grow the variety of opportunities available for local people.
  • Create Devon wide campaigns to inform and inspire individuals to be active.
  • Deliver initiatives in a way that is appropriate to each local area.
  • Generate more resources by making the best use of current investment and securing more.

Visit the Active Devon website at activedevon.org

About Sport England

Sport England is a public body and invests up to £300 million National Lottery and government money each year in projects and programmes that help people get active and play sport.

It wants everyone in England, regardless of age, background, or level of ability, to feel able to engage in sport and physical activity. That’s why a lot of its work is specifically focused on helping people who do no, or very little, physical activity and groups who are typically less active – like women, disabled people and people on lower incomes.

Visit the Sports England website at sportengland.org


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