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Tortworth Forest Centre CIC based in The Dell at Tortworth Arboretum is celebrating after being awarded funding from The National Lottery Community Fund, to continue delivering woodland-based wellbeing groups for local residents struggling with poor mental health.

Tortworth Forest Centre CIC is a community, restoring the Dell at Tortworth Arboretum, which was left abandoned for many years. The CIC was founded in 2015, bringing together hundreds of volunteers who have worked tirelessly to restore the arboretum which had become overgrown, inaccessible and unsafe for the public to visit.

Alongside the restoration work, the team deliver four projects as part of the Woodland Wellbeing Programme which support participantsto build their confidence in social groups, learn woodland skills and connect with nature. The projects include:

  • Woodland Management Day which supports people of all genders to learn and practise woodland management skills to improve their confidence and self esteem.
  • The Hawthorn Project which supports self-identifying women recovering from addiction or struggling with poor mental health.
  • The Oak Tree Project which supports people of all genders who are struggling with social isolation and poor mental health.
  • Woodland Management Sundays where volunteers come together each month to support woodland management tasks, learn new skills and meet like-minded people.

This new National Lottery funding will provide 65% of the funding required to continue delivering these projects for local residents over the next four years. The team will be raising 35% match funding through public events and donations, further grant funding and by hiring the woodland.

National Lottery players raise over £30 million a week for good causes across the UK. The National Lottery Community Fund distributes a share of this to projects to support people and communities to prosper and thrive.

Amy Walsh, Operations Manager said: “Thanks to National Lottery players, this grant means that we can continue supporting local people who are struggling with poor mental health. These projects are a lifeline for many people and this funding will make a big difference to peoples lives.”

“The main reason that the Hawthorn has been the most helpful of all the support agencies and the different provision is that it has ‘held me over many months while I continue to face ongoing traumas and triggers that I cannot yet escape. And I dont have to keep explaining the unexplainable (and traumatic) to new people each time a short term support provision ends. I feel safe that I have somewhere + some people who are not going to just ‘abandon me again. I am so grateful. It is a much needed oasis each week.”

Tortworth Forest Centre CIC is a registered not-for-profit Community Interest Company (no: 09561405). We rely on public and corporate donations, grant funding and event ticket sales to support the restoration of Tortworth Arboretum and our community wellbeing projects. Your group or organisation can help by hiring the woodland for regular or special events. Groups are welcome to exclusively hire Tortworth Arboretum for a unique camping experience beneath the beautiful canopy of our exotic trees. For more information on how you can help, please visit www.tortwortharboretum.org.

During the pandemic, in 2020 alone, The National Lottery Community Fund distributed almost £1 billion to charities and community organisations across the UK.

To find out more visit www.TNLCommunityFund.org.uk