Fife Employment Access Trust (FEAT) have adapted their long running “Employ Your Mind” to run fully outdoors in 2021 with the launch of the Grow Your Mind project. With funding from Armed Forces Covenant Fund Trust, they will run a total of 4 groups over an 18-month period.

They also work in partnership with Veterans First Point in Fife who will refer veterans into the service.  Being based outdoors means the activities will include horticulture and conservation, however, they will embed cognitive remediation therapy and other key elements of the Employ your Mind framework.

The project will be using Silverburn Park as “basecamp”. In 2019, FEAT signed a lease agreement with an aim to regenerate the park for a sustainable future. As well as being the base for Grow Your Mind, FEAT are working to develop Silverburn Park in to the “Heart, Mind & Soul” for the Leven community, find out more at the Silverburn Park website

Making it happen

FEAT saw the value of outside space to help delivering training and support, and as part of the Grow Your Mind project, looked at steps that could be taken to make this a reality.

The first thing that had to be done was risk assessments for the groups who will be running sessions outside. This includes how to manage physical distancing, ensuring all items are sanitised and how the group will interact with other visitors to the park.

This led to the need to make groups smaller than anticipated to enable physical distancing whilst still encouraging interaction. This can be used to enhance the experience, for example 2 metres apart in a closed indoor space can feel isolating whilst being 2 metres apart outside in a space such as the sensory garden at Silverburn Park feels natural.

Traditionally, FEAT training is classroom based with equipment that is not available outside so they considered what else could be used. Participants used the beach and sand to write and draw, rather than writing on paper. They used digital images to record.

The project has secured a large army tent that can be set up with two or three sides, so still open yet able to deliver classroom activities outside.

Although the activities outside might be different, the Grow Your Mind project concentrates on the thinking process whilst doing the activity, so it is possible to translate the facilitation of the group in to the outdoor space.

Things to consider

Provision of practical equipment that needed to be considered, like sturdy shoes and outdoor clothing. Many of the users of the project may not have these items readily available so this is essential for launching a session during a Scottish winter.

The focus of the Grow Your Mind is the 5 phases to wellbeing which includes being physically active. This is possible to deliver outdoors as part of the sessions, rather than as an add-on to indoor based sessions.

Top tips

  1. Think about the practicalities. What can you do outside easily?

  2. Be prepared and have a Plan. What do you do if its raining?

  3. Keep your mind open and experiment! Take advantage of being outside and don’t just repeat what you would do inside

Who can help?

Work with youth groups had already started in the park. Phoenix Futures had started running youth sessions and they were happy to share their risk assessment, which was  adapted for Grow Your Mind.

The project also consulted with NHS Scotland colleagues for support and guidance on the medical aspects of mental health.

Watch Joanne Koziel, Strategic Clinical Lead at FEAT tell us about the project below:

Find out more about the Fife Employment Access Trust 

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