Case Study

3 National Landscapes join forces to connect people and nature


The Somerset Nature Connections is a true collaboration project brought together by the Quantock Hills, Blackdown Hills and Mendip Hills National Landscapes and Somerset Wildlife Trust.

The project aimed to enhance the wellbeing of people through engagement with nature and to increase the confidence and access of groups through the upskilling volunteers and staff of partner organisations.

The project had three workstreams; running weekly sessions that people with poor mental health or wellbeing could self-refer to or be referred onto by our health partners; sessions with groups to increase knowledge and confidence to allow the groups to continue to access the benefits of nature beyond the project life and to train volunteers as wellbeing ambassadors to support organisations; and groups to continue to access the natural environment.

Courtesy of Quantock Hills National Landscape

What was done

The Somerset Nature Connections Project was a partnership between the Quantock Hills, Blackdown Hills and Mendip Hills National Landscapes and Somerset Wildlife Trust to provide positive mental and physical health benefits of engagement in nature.

Accessing a number of different funding pots, such as National Lottery Community Fund, S106 associated with major infrastructure and Public Health as well as a number of smaller pots, and operating across the three national landscapes the project had three workstreams:

1) Six-weekly courses that aimed to improve the mental health and wellbeing of participants based in the national landscapes.

Participants could sign up for up to three courses meaning that a maximum 18 weeks of support was available.

People were able to self-refer though most participants had been referred by health professionals.

2) Support for community groups to introduce them to the wonderful landscapes of the Quantock Hills, Mendip Hills and Blackdown Hills and provide activities, skills and confidence to continue to access the natural environment beyond the life of the project.

3) To train and enable volunteers to support groups and communities to realise the wellbeing benefits of engaging with the natural environment.

The training and support centered on the five ways of well-being and how to run a number of activities that would be suitable for different groups and individuals.

Volunteers were also able to become peer-supporters that would provide greater engage and support to specific groups or individuals.

The project has been hugely successful, hitting all targets and has reinforced the need to have a pathway for participants to continue their journey after attending the course.

Numerous participants have become volunteers with the project and even with the protected landscapes and are supporting established volunteer groups bringing new skills and support to these groups.

“From the moment we gathered under the trees for our 'tuning in', I thought this was something special. The feeling continued over the coming weeks with memorable activities such as chutney making, pond dipping, mandala and lace making, picking fruit & weeding in the kitchen garden, soup making to name a few. These sessions will linger long in my memory and have opened my eyes further to the wonder of nature. Long may they continue.”

Quantock Hills group participant.


Enabled 107 people experiencing mental health problems such as depression and anxiety who live in isolated or deprived communities to access local natural environments to help them more effectively self-manage their mental health.

Supported 30 community groups (279 individuals) to access the natural environment and provide support and training to enable them to continue accessing the natural environment beyond the life of the project.

Recruited and trained 35 volunteers as peer supporters or specialists to support individuals and local groups over the longer term.

“Thank you for giving me the opportunity to start to believe in myself, to start to feel ok about myself. I would never have done it without your encouragement, I would never have tried all the many different activities that have made a massive difference to my happiness and confidence. I thank you from the bottom of my heart for your warm welcome, your encouragement, and enthusiasm that makes this group so very, very special."

Mendip Hills group participant.


The collaborative approach of this project allowed different methods and solutions to be used in different areas.

By working in three National Landscapes the project was also able to tailor the offer to take account of the different landscapes and sites being used.

One element that has been apparent specifically to this project is having the groups / opportunities / resources in place to be able to offer participants a journey and to be able to signpost to opportunities after their engagement in the project.