Darren Bartley, an Engagement and Participant Officer for Children’s Services at Neath Port Talbot Council, believes that it can. Having set up groups for vulnerable children such as Hope and Youth Voice Matters, he hopes to get them involved with nature by taking part in walks, as well as the Green Space Dark Skies’ walking events.
Bartley believes that being out in nature has significant positive impacts on the mental health of the young people he works with. He claims that many of these children need to get their worries off their chests and whilst they are on these walks they have a chance to do this. Without the bustle of life, these young people have the opportunity to talk about what is bothering them, with someone that will listen.
He also claims that talking to the young people means that he can do his job better, as he gets a better understanding of how these young people are feeling. Bartley states that: “You just walk alongside someone for five minutes and they do offload a little bit or you get to know them a little bit better. It just builds more of a relationship up, from a professional point of view.”
One of Darren Bartley’s main worries was finding enough equipment for the children who wished to take part on these walks. He also wants to make sure that those that are unsure cannot use the lack of equipment as an excuse to not go on these walking trips. Luckily, Bartley’s group have already received funding for new walking gear, which allows the young people he works alongside to carry on being out in nature and allows them to have an escape from areas of their lives that might be affecting their mental health.