On Monday 11th December our staff took the day off work and… walked to work!
Impact Manager Amy, Event Manager Katy and Wellbeing Manager Alice along with a good friend of the Forest Centre left Bristol at 9am and spent the next 7.5 hours battling mud, floods, blisters and traffic to reach the arboretum on foot. They did this to raise awareness of our current fundraising appeal for a new minibus as ours is on its last legs (or wheels!).
The journey was arduous, took too long and proved that it is not feasible to travel to the Forest Centre without reliable transport. Due to the recent rains many of the pathways were severely boggy, or completely flooded forcing the team to spend at least 3 hours walking in a slow, wide-legged waddle on the outer edged of the pathway or wading through slippery mud.
When it became apparent that continuing along the Frome Valley Walkway meant they would never finish the challenge in daylight, they switched to walking along busy B roads; often with no pavements. Large lorries, farm vehicles and speeding cars thunder along these roads, and there are stretches where the curbs are non existent or filled with stinging nettles and brambles. At times the road felt too unsafe, so they switched back to the longer, slower public footpaths, only to find them blocked by hedges, further flooding and farm animals. It was a true challenge, and really showed how vital the minibus is to access the arboretum.
It takes around 30 minutes for the minibus to make this journey, something it does three to four times each week. Each day it carries different groups of people to the volunteering days and woodland wellbeing projects. If we didn’t have a minibus, 9 out of 13 of our current Hawthorn Project participants wouldn’t be able to get to Tortworth for their weekly group.
Here’s what our participants have to say about why the minibus is important to them:
“The minibus meant I could actually go to the forest, without it – in my desperate need of wellbeing away from the city – I honestly don’t think I’d have survived. I had a traumatic year & I had no support. The Tortworth team were so kind, supportive & there for me in a very unstable time. Nature means so much to me & living in Bristol I could not reach it, was trapped.”
“As an autistic having the minibus made me feel so included as no other groups were able to offer this service. I’m very sensitive & being able to use the minibus took away the worry & fear of overwhelm that I regularly get using public transport.”
“Public transport is so loud, unpredictable & scary. The sounds, smells, coughing, germs, scary people, sitting so close to others you don’t know. Waiting for buses is intense & very stressful for me, as they’re usually not on time or can be full. There’s always fear involved.”
“It’s very useful and participants wouldn’t otherwise be able to get there. Very beneficial for inner city patients to access green space outside the city and I have been aware of very few projects who offer this in the past, so it’s a really excellent service.” A social prescriber who refers participants to our groups.
The team have raised an incredible £830 from their incredible efforts, bringing our overall fundraiser for the new minibus to a tantalising £3490!
Thank you everyone for your support so far. Raffle tickets are still available, and with over 40 amazing prizes on offer there are many changes to win!