A programme developed by Scottish Forestry that offers support to people with mental health issues is set to continue across Argyll and Bute over the next two years.

Argyll and the Isles Coast and Countryside Trust (ACT) has secured £150,000 of funding to deliver Branching Out Argyll and Moving On, woodland-based programmes of outdoor activities, to help participants overcome mental health issues caused by loneliness, isolation, and stigma.

Developed by Scottish Forestry and delivered by Argyll and the Isles Coast and Countryside Trust (ACT), the Branching Out programme in Argyll and Bute supports residents referred locally from NHS Community Mental Health teams through 12 weekly sessions of supported activities. Each session is a 5-hour day in the woods in all weathers and can include building shelters, green woodworking, bush craft, tool use, conservation activities, gentle exercise, cooking on campfires and environmental art.

Moving On is a progression programme on offer to a wider range of participants with long term health conditions and welcomes Branching Out graduates.  The project continues to work with local community woodlands to provide venues for this supported volunteering programme.

Nathalie Moriarty, Branching Out Manager for Scottish Forestry said: “We are delighted that this amazing programme has again won funding support to help maintain its momentum in Argyll. 
“The programme makes a positive impact on people struggling with their mental health. It is a real lifeline for participants that introduces them to new people, new situations, new skills and new opportunities.

“The first few years of Branching Out in Argyll have been hugely successful and has seen the development of an amazing partnership with ACT and their Branching Out delivery team whose enthusiasm and commitment have been really inspiring and infectious!”

Scottish Forestry helped support the development of the programme. The programme is co-funded by:
• National Lottery Community Fund Scotland (£50,000 for each of the two years)
• Transforming Self Management Fund (£30,000)
• Scottish Forestry, that will also provide funding of £20,000.

The new funding from The National Lottery Community Fund, which distributes money raised by National Lottery players for good causes and is the largest community funder in the UK, will contribute to two years of Branching Out programmes across Argyll and Bute.