Charity set to bring ‘Branching Out’ to Bute

The Branching Out project is run by the Argyll and the Isles Coast and Countryside Trust.
The Branching Out project is run by the Argyll and the Isles Coast and Countryside Trust.

An Argyll charity has been awarded £195,500 to deliver an innovative mental health intervention programme across Argyll and Bute from this summer.

A funding award of £192,000 has been made to the Argyll and the Islands Coast and Countryside Trust (ACT) by Health and Social Care Alliance Scotland from their

Transforming Self-Management Fund, which will allow ACT and Branching Out Argyll partners NHS and Forestry Commission Scotland (FCS) to offer a unique opportunity for people with long term mental health conditions to take part in a 12-week programme of woodland activities with specialist trainers and community mental health teams.

Argyll and Bute Council’s community development teams in Bute and Cowal, and Mid-Argyll have also awarded £3,500 to monitor and evaluate Branching Out Argyll, which will help to ensure continued success and funding support beyond our 3-year programme.

Bute resident Yennie van Oostende, who works with NHS Highland and is also one of ACT’s trustees, said: “ACT has received so much support for the Branching Out Argyll idea from NHS, Forestry Commission Scotland, Argyll and Bute Council and Community Woodlands Association.

“It is fantastic to now be in a position to run this innovative programme which focuses on offering an outdoor experience, developing new skills and a new way of

working in the mental health service to improve health and wellbeing.

“The fact that ACT is playing a coordinating role has played a key role in our success with securing this funding support.

“We are really looking forward to getting underway, and to making such positive use of some of Argyll’s beautiful woodlands.”

The Branching Out programme was established by Forestry Commission Scotland and NHS and trialled with great success in Highland region and in the central belt.

The Trust has worked closely with FCS in Argyll, the NHS and Community Woodlands Association partners to adapt the programme to meet Argyll’s needs.

This award follows successful funding applications over the past 18 months which have provided leader training, tool kits, and funds for three programmes, one of which is currently running at Blarbuie in Mid-Argyll.

Two more are scheduled for Kilfinan and Bute over the coming months.

An ACT spokesperson said: “The Branching Out Argyll steering group are looking forward to working with our qualified leaders and funding partners to co-ordinate programme delivery across Argyll.

“Branching Out Argyll is one of four current projects co-ordinated by ACT delivering skills, training, environmental and wellbeing benefits.”

For more info about ACT or Branching Out Argyll please contact julie@act-now.org.uk or refer to www.act-now.org.uk.