Rooted in Nature: scaling up a programme of nature-based activities for a diverse group of young people in Middlesbrough

CLARE WOOLHOUSE, Catherine El Zerbi

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Research on ‘therapeutic landscapes’ (Bell et al., 2018) has called for greater engagement with a wide range of personalised complex experiences to better understand the health benefits of nature-based programmes, ensure that individuals or groups are not marginalised and that the infrastructure requirements are clear, particularly in locations within the UK that face place-based inequalities such as North East England. To address this call, our research seeks to:
(i). Understand the value of a nature-based programme for mental health as understood by a diverse group of young people and nature-based practitioners in Middlesbrough;
(ii). Identify the requirements for effective infrastructure management and contextual adaptation for scaling-up across the North East & North Cumbria (NENC) region; and
(iii). Work with stakeholders to establish the conditions for sustainability, specifically to identify gaps, constraints and opportunities for integrating nature-based programmes into local systems.
The conference presentation will outline a year-long mixed-methods pilot project [24/01/22 to 23/01/23]. Three qualitative methods are utilised: photo-elicitation with young people aged 13-24 years involved in a nature-based programme (n=30); walking interviews with nature-based practitioners (n=30); and two Dilemmas Cafes (n=80). This work considers the features of nature-based activities that are most valued; the needs addressed by these activities; the range of activities available and models of practice utilised; the perceived challenges to scaling-up; alongside dilemmas regarding the focus, operation and delivery of nature-based health programmes.
Detail will also be shared on the quantitative online survey with nature-based stakeholders (n=100) that maps the existing regional network and collects information on the characteristics of settings, funding, partnerships and mechanisms that are required to successfully mobilise place-based natural assets.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2 Sept 2022
EventRoyal Geographical Society annual conference - Newcastle University, Newcastle, United Kingdom
Duration: 30 Aug 20222 Sept 2022


ConferenceRoyal Geographical Society annual conference
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
Internet address


  • Therapeutic landscapes
  • mental health
  • social prescribing


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  • RiN: Rooted in Nature

    WOOLHOUSE, C., El Zerbi, C., Bambra, C., Banks, S., McLaughlin, J. & Wildman, J.

    Project: Research

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