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The health and wellbeing impacts of volunteering with The Wildlife Trusts

A scientific evaluation of the health and wellbeing impacts of Wildlife Trusts volunteering programmes

This study, carried out by the Green Exercise Team at the University of Essex, analysed data relating to the participation of 139 people in Wildlife Trusts projects between February 2016 and February 2017. It assessed changes in participants’ attitudes, behaviour and mental wellbeing over the course of 12 weeks, as a
result of taking part in nature conservation volunteering programmes run by 5 Wildlife Trusts across the North, Midlands and South West of England.

The principal finding was that the mental wellbeing of participants improved significantly over the 12-week period, and that improvements were greatest for people who had not previously taken part in Wildlife Trust activities. At the start of the study period, 39% of participants reported low wellbeing, compared to UK norms. After 12 weeks, this had reduced to 19%. Participants also reported enhanced levels of positivity, health, nature relatedness, pro-environmental behaviour, levels of physical activity and increased contact with greenspace.