WildWomen in the Bristol Post

Rebecca Cork, Jackie Roby and Emma Coates of Go Wild

Rebecca Cork, Jackie Roby and Emma Coates of Go Wild

Our Wild Women project is in the Bristol Post today!

Inspirational drugs recovery project needs funding for bushcraft sessions


Bushcraft teachers at a woodland project are hoping to transform the way women are treated for drug addiction.

We all know the benefits of getting out into the fresh air and exploring nature, but the Go Wild project is harnessing the power of woodland in a different way.

A pilot project called Wild Women has been running in Long Ashton which takes women who are in recovery from drug and alcohol misuse into the woods for one day a week to help build confidence, self-esteem and wellbeing.

The project is the first of its kind, run by women for women, that offers the group the opportunity to step out of their day-to-day lives and spend some time in a safe space learning new skills.

Just a few weeks into the programme, founder of Go Wild, Jackie Roby, said the results had been inspirational.

She said: “We learn new skills and we cook together. It focuses on the future, rather than the addiction.

“Being out in nature teaches resilience and builds self-esteem, it is about giving people the resources to deal with addiction, like self-confidence and belief.”

Jackie is a qualified teacher and forest school leader and set up the social enterprise in 2010. She puts on bushcraft lessons for women of all backgrounds alongside her colleagues Rebecca Cork and Emma Coates.

She said: “You don’t often see much for women when it comes to bushcraft, because people assume that’s not what women are into and it’s all for men.

“But that’s not the case at all.

“When you bring a group of women out here, you tend to see teamwork and they help each other out to create things, and it becomes a very safe and accepting place.”

The group of eight women are learning woodland skills such as firelighting, outdoor cooking, plant and wildlife identification, birdsong and tool use, all taught in such a way so as to improve confidence, resilience and self-esteem.

Jackie’s project is now in need of funding, so she can continue offering sessions to women who need them.

So far, Jackie and her team have been funding them using their own money.

One of the women who attend the project, Roz, said she had gone from drinking vodka in bed all the day to being off drink for four weeks to make sure she stays on the programme.

She said: “Before the Bristol Drugs Project, I was drinking vodka all day, every day.

“I’d lay in bed all day, every day. I never went anywhere or spoke to anyone.

“One day things went too far – I started smashing up my flat and hurting myself.

“A doctor referred me to the women’s group at Bristol Drugs Project and this was all huge for me. I hadn’t left the house in weeks, seen or spoken to anyone.

“My whole body was shaking and every step was painful.”

Roz said that being in the woods with Jackie had stopped her worrying and made her feel more hopeful for her future.

She said: “I’m the youngest of six and my childhood was spent playing in the woods near our home. I loved it. I felt like it was where I belonged

“All those memories came back to me and I felt excited for the first time in a long time. When I got to go to the woods I woke up that morning looking forward to something. It was exciting to get ready to go somewhere.

“I’m always worrying, but when I come to the woods, I switch off my phone. I feel free.

“Last week I went to see my doctor to talk to her about how I’m getting on and she was amazed. She said my face looked better and she could see how much being in the woods was benefitting me

“She was going to put me on a detox programme but she could see that this is my detox. I haven’t had a drink in four weeks because if I start, I won’t be able to stop.”

The sessions are being held in woodland owned by the Forestry Commission in Long Ashton.

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