Opening doors to nature: bringing calm and raising aspirations of vulnerable young people through nature-based intervention

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


External organisations

  • University of Derby


This qualitative study explores the experiences of YMCA residents who participated in a nature-based intervention designed to support wellbeing run by Derbyshire Wildlife Trust and YMCA Derbyshire. The intervention ran over 9 weeks and involved taking groups of residents off site for a range of outdoor activities from allotment gardening to nature conservation in various outdoor environments. After the intervention took place, semistructured interviews, which explored the personal journeys of 8 residents who had participated in the intervention, were conducted. An interpretative phenomenological analysis of the interviews identified 3 superordinate themes: building social relationships, developing skills and developing feelings of self-worth, and managing emotions through nature. It is argued that the intervention enabled the residents to feel part of a supportive community, which enabled a positive shift in identity. Furthermore, the program helped residents manage their emotions, supporting their mental health and promoting a general sense of wellbeing. This is especially important, given that members of the intervention have a history of mental health issues and often come from a background of higher socioeconomic deprivation, where opportunities for social cohesion and nature connectedness are scarce.


Original languageEnglish
JournalHumanistic Psychologist
Publication statusPublished - 8 Jul 2019
Externally publishedYes