Introducing Our New Partnership With Wild Soul Woods

As you know, supporting local businesses is important to us and we have recently decided to support a new Community Interest Company (CIC) called Wild Soul Woods who deliver ‘emotionally literate nature-based wellbeing’ sessions in Crawley. We caught up with one of the founders, Victoria Duggan to find out more about Wild Soul Woods and how it will help families in the local area…

How did Wild Soul Woods come about?

Wild Soul Woods evolved as a response to the needs of local families, including our own. We were delivering ‘emotionally literate Woodland Adventure’ sessions while supporting our own young people who couldn’t attend school. We realised the skills we were learning were benefiting other children and families in ways we didn’t expect. 

The therapeutic strategies we were using for our own neurodivergent children were transferable and had a huge impact – families whose children didn’t feel safe in other environments were coming back again and again. We were spending hours talking with parents and carers about the differences their children were experiencing and the journey they were navigating.

When a family speech and language therapist agreed to come and talk to our volunteers, we knew we had an opportunity to create something special and incredibly powerful for families who were struggling. 

Fast forward a couple of years, the support and input from Speech & Language therapists, Clinical Psychologists, Occupational Therapists and Mental Health Professionals has enabled us to create an innovative model that can be taught and delivered. 

All three Directors have lived experience of supporting young people for whom the mainstream education system doesn’t quite fit, as well professional careers in relevant areas like safeguarding, well-being, community, biodiversity & sustainability. Wild Soul Woods CIC is a way for us to share our passions, skills and experiences and make a real difference in an area that is in serious need right now.

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What is the aim of Wild Soul Woods?

To provide a safe, nature-connected space for young people, families & adults at risk of mental, physical & emotional health decline in times of crisis.

We know that meaningful connection with the natural world through play or skills- based activities has been proven time and time again to have a multitude of health benefits. We also know that connection with other people is a huge protective factor in preventing mental health decline by avoiding social isolation.

Working toward a higher purpose – the needs of our woodland family – essentially gives individuals a reason to think about things other than their own situation, preventing a cycle of inward decline. It also promotes the fact that we are a part of ‘nature’, not separate from it. This creates a really strong sense of belonging as well as the recognition that life occurs in seasons and cycles – and that’s okay… This too shall pass!

Who will Wild Soul Woods support? 

We’re focusing on supporting families on waiting lists. There is good support available through the NHS and the Local Authority, but it is notoriously difficult to access. It takes years to access the specialist support and provision a child might need for their education. What we want to do is support these families so that an education issue or potentially a disability issue doesn’t become a mental health issue too. 

We are particularly keen to support young people who are managing demand avoidance challenges as well as families coping with separation anxiety. Demand avoidance and separation anxiety sometimes accompany neurodivergence but can also be trauma responses. Our personal experience of finding it difficult to access support because of these needs means we know we can make a tangible difference to families. 

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What stage is Wild Soul Woods at and what are the next steps? 

We are in start-up mode! We are currently working on local partnerships to make sure we can offer our support to the families who will benefit most, as well as ensuring our safeguarding is the best it can possibly be. We are creating a training package to make sure our approaches can be delivered effectively and safely. 

We will introduce ourselves to the community by delivering drop-in play sessions in the Summer with Crawley Play Service and training their staff to deliver the ‘Wild Soul Woods’ ethos. The next step is to create the infrastructure and revenue streams to grow and train new staff and deliver short, medium- and long- term programmes to families who can’t source or afford accessible therapeutic activities. 

Resolve is thrilled to be supporting this project. How can other people/businesses get involved?

We are equally thrilled and so grateful! The donation Resolve has made means we are able to work directly with families to plan and start our programme of pilot sessions and show potential funders the impact we are having. 

We now need:

  • advisory support from business strategy & accounting/CIC specialists
  • professional website to showcase our policies and processes to strategic partners as well as to take bookings efficiently and in compliance with GDPR
  • digital platform for training delivery 

We would welcome anyone with experience or understanding of these challenges who might like to get involved either in the woods or behind the scenes and of course, we would love to hear from any families for whom these difficulties sound familiar.

Thank you so much to Chris and the team at Resolve for your support. We are now able to make a real difference to families which is exciting. Thank you!

Victoria Duggan, Founder of Wild Soul Woods

Supporting local businesses is important to all of us at Resolve and we are excited to be working with Wild Soul Woods this year. 

Stu and I met at university, so having the opportunity to access education has always been important to us both. When we set-up Resolve, we were always keen to integrate the business and our team into an educational setting in some way as we feel there is a need to provide basic financial education to our young people as a key life skill. When we heard about Wild Soul Woods, we thought this was a great fit, especially as sustainability is also really important to us. We are looking forward to getting involved as a business, not just with financial support, but also where possible and appropriate by providing our time to help the young people involved understand a little more about the financial world around them in a fun and engaging way!

Chris Lees, Mortgage and Protection Director at Resolve Financial Solutions.

We will be sharing the progress of Wild Soul Woods over the coming months and in the meantime if anyone is interested in finding how they can get involved, please email Victoria Duggan.

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