The Wilderness Foundation runs a series of nature and horticultural education and therapy projects, aimed at giving people the benefits of getting closer to nature and spreading a deep understanding of the importance of protecting the environment.
Wilderness educates more than 3,000 schoolchildren a year in its outdoor classroom through curriculum-based education programmes, aimed at connecting future generations to nature. Field to fork, living things and their habitats, plants, biodiversity, climate change, art and design and geography are among the subjects covered.
Its Chatham Green Project is a conservation and education initiative based on 162 hectares of farmland, near Chelmsford in Essex, where the 12-staff, 30-volunteer charity is based.
The Out There Wilderness Academy for 13-15-year-olds is a transformational programme for young people with behavioural issues. It gives participants six weeks of outdoor education followed by eight weeks of one-to-on mentoring.
Imbewu in Scotland connects inner city children to the remote countryside and introduces them to work opportunities in the rural sector.
Wilderness has six allotments in Chelmsford which are tended by young volunteers introduced through the charity Mencap.
It also runs a six to nine-month Turnaround project for young people aged 15 – 21 who are struggling with family, social or personal problems, which features mentoring, nature-based activities, therapy, work experience and networking and employability workshops.
Chief executive Jo Roberts said: "Everything we do is this very strong connection to nature. We want children to understand that a field of wheat is not just about bread, it’s about all the natural world around it. We are looking at resilient nature and how that can help us be resilient humans."
She said she was extremely pleased to be working with Haymarket because of the wide variety of skills held by its staff and because the charity wants to help more people but has limited resources.
She added: "We always need people because working outdoors takes a lot of effort. We find our volunteers get a lot back."
The partnership is part of Haymarket’s new Haymarket in The Community programme. The global media organisation is working with The Giving Department (TGD) on the new initiative. As well as The Wilderness Foundation, it has partnered with Football Beyond Borders, The Mix, Thames21, Age UK and Vauxhall Community Farm.
The charities will benefit from employee fundraising initiatives but Haymarket also intends to go beyond this by providing them the opportunity to educate new audiences and fundraising through its extensive network of festivals, awards, conferences and live events, as well as to contribute skills held by staff. The company is also introducing a new volunteering policy with paid time for ‘giving-back’ activities.