A Woodland Community for Health

Updated: Dec 17, 2020

Our Vision of building a Community for Health is at the heart of welcoming you to our wellbeing experiences. Each opportunity is carefully designed to support our guests to make connections with nature and other guests. We specialise in offering a wide collection of relaxing and accessible experiences based in nature. Our highly trained, wellbeing professionals are experienced in supporting wellbeing throughout Nature’s seasons.

We (Helen and Anne) have decades of NHS, holistic healthcare and community organization experience. Much of our experience has been based in medicalized “consulting rooms”. When we became shareholders at Whistlewood Common, it was obvious that the unique, community owned woodland setting was the perfect place to support community wellbeing. Our “Wellness without walls” approach offers a place to truly “BE” and experience calm in simple, supportive ways where there is a warm, community welcome.

Whistlewood Common

Whistlewood Common is a Permaculture project which is built on the ethics of Earth Care, People Care, Fair Shares. Connection to Nature is at the heart of our wellbeing opportunities which incorporate the University of Derby's "Five Pathways to Nature". We use the whole of our woodland and take every opportunity to hold sessions outdoors.

Ten acres of diverse, carefully planned, woodland is waiting for you, with comforting facilities, campfires and our guests tell us that words cannot describe our wellness experiences. You really do need to be here to find your place within our Wellbeing at Whistlewood community.

Our woodland was formed from a parcel of land bought in 2013 by a group of like-minded individuals and groups who formed a community with a shared purpose: to protect nature, to manage land sustainably and to demonstrate sustainability and green living. Whistlewood’s community of shareholders now numbers approximately 400 people.

Whistlewood’s annual Music Festival is an example where the Whistlewood Community feel is very strong. A sell out in previous years, 500 people come together around Mid-Summer to share good Music, good food and to celebrate community. We hope to be able to share that experience with you very soon.

Our Guests

We look forward to welcoming you to experience Forest Bathing, Retreat days, Forest Therapy and a wide range of seasonal wellness opportunities. By limiting the number of places at each event, we can dedicate time to support our participants. We offer time to relax in nature on our retreat days complemented by seasonal workshops, therapies, treatments, expressive arts, talks, walks and nature-based wellness opportunities. Each opportunity is carefully designed to make connections within yourself, with other people and with nature.

Valuing and welcoming diversity is central to our ethics and vision of being an inclusive community for health. Our facilities support a wider range of support needs than many woodland settings. We offer a secure place to relax and feel safe. Our highly trained team of wellbeing, creative and outdoor pursuits professionals have extended their training to include diversity and inclusion needs.

As a community for health we work with other organisations to offer wellbeing opportunities to people whatever their financial circumstances. We provide a number of free and concessionary places on a range of our experiences. Our guests have been extremely supportive during this difficult year for our wellbeing professionals. We believe that our professionals deserve to be paid fairly whilst supporting the needs of our guests. As a community for health we believe that we have found a balance where mutual support and respect meets our collective wellbeing needs.

It is our pleasure to support and design bespoke events for social groups and corporate teams. We offer retreats, workshops, courses, classes and professional services to meet diverse wellbeing needs. Our wellbeing services can be found at community locations and festivals. We travel light and are adaptable, offering opportunities to build a community for health wherever we go.

In taking part in a Forest Bathing walk or Forest Therapies session you are undertaking a shared experience that facilitates a connection not only to nature but to your fellow participants. Forest Bathing and Therapy experiences recognize that social interaction is vital to our wellbeing. Our experiences are created to strengthen relationships and to reduce social isolation. As an example, sharing experiences during the talking circles, a key part of a Forest Bathing walk, helps to build a Community of Forest Bathing participants. If a group are already familiar with each other, then it will strengthen their bonds further. As individual participants share their experiences of being in nature verbally, they recognize through the talking circle that they are experiencing nature in similar ways, building on each other’s words and making social connections.

Our Professionals Community

We foster a sense of Community in our Wellbeing Professionals through the provision of regular Professional Development days. These days are designed to ensure sharing of knowledge, food and to develop and enhance our Wellbeing.

We greatly value the skills, experience and diversity brought by our Professionals which adds to our rich range of wellbeing experiences.

Our Partner Organisations

We work together to include nature and earth care into our business planning at every step. We believe that we cannot be well people if our planet is in poor health. Our business and community partnerships have been carefully selected to reflect our ethical values and vision.

Whistlewood Common is the perfect place for a diverse community to experience opportunities for wellbeing. The Whistlewood community supports enterprise as part of it’s aims and plans. We have partnered with other Whistlewood enterprises to offer the best of ethical and healthy food as part of our events. Whistlewood hosts a community of artists and creatives who are experienced in supporting health and wellbeing within the NHS and local communities. Permaculture experts at Whistlewood have supported us to design our community and offer workshops for wellbeing.

The National Forest Company (NFC) holds shares in Whistlewood Common. Generous bursaries from the NFC have supported us to train with the Forest Therapy Institute to offer Forest Bathing and Forest Therapy experiences. We look forward to providing Forest Bathing and wellbeing opportunities at the NFC 2021 Timber Festival.

We look forward to working with three further community organizations as we expand our wellness experience to wider, diverse communities. Please feel welcome to follow our news about our exciting new partnerships in future news and blogs.

We strive to provide the best, evidence-based wellbeing experiences for our guests. Our partners at the University of Derby’s Nature Connectedness Research Unit have provided the evidence for our practice and the research instruments to measure that our interventions are effective. This partnership is further strengthened by our close links with the Forest Therapy Institute and other eco wellness practitioners.

Membership of professional bodies strengthens our professional accountability as members of a professional wellbeing community. The Federation of Holistic Therapists is the UK’s largest wellbeing professionals’ organization which supports our ongoing development and professional standards. A number of our wellbeing professionals are members of the College of Medicine and Integrated Health, the organization formed by NHS doctors and wellbeing professionals to provide a positive future direction for the NHS. This includes the integration of holistic approaches to health and wellbeing, including “social” and “green prescriptions”. We are committed to being part of these positive changes and welcome community wellbeing opportunities “on prescription”.

The Web of Life

Shared purpose and finding interconnectivity are at the heart of Community. Recognizing that we are connected to nature, to other living beings, that we are indeed dependent on nature, trees for Oxygen for instance; is vital to our health, wellbeing and healing. We are all part of the “Web of Life”. Spending time in nature helps us to recognize that.

More recent models for health do recognise that humans are embedded within the natural world and that the health of the planet and the health of humans are interdependent.

In these difficult times, we will find creative ways of expressing community as it is so important for our Health and Wellbeing.

Wellbeing at Whistlewood has found and is continuing to find its connections and community.

We look forward to welcoming you to our Community for Health at every opportunity.

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