Announcing the Forest Society Grants for 2024

15th Apr 2024
Rising Together CIC


We are excited to announce the six projects and organisations, successful in the fourth round of Forest Society Grants, designed to support the health and wellbeing of residents and communities and increase their participation in activities within the National Forest.

The fund was launched in 2021 and enables organisations to support more people to engage with natural spaces, this year, specifically focusing on supporting mental and physical health to increase peoples engagement with the Forest.  

The six projects selected are:

Burton and South Derbyshire College will develop an inspiring library of immersive content for their newly installed innovative immersive suites, based on the stories of the National Forest. Using the National Forests social, industrial and environmental heritage, Burton and South Derbyshire College will work with their learners to gather the information to produce the content for the project. Working with professionals learners and staff at the college will be upskilled as they create this content, learning new skills including interview techniques, recording and audio-production, filming for 360 video and working with drones. Other skills in working with virtual reality, interactive mapping and understanding immersive software will also be developed. Once complete, learners across the college will utilise the content within the immersive suite as part of their courses, increasing their awareness about environmental challenges.  Local people will be able to access the immersive suites on open days and during other events, and local school children will utilise them on visit days to the college.

Willow Weaving


Buzzing Roots CIC will deliver Wilderness Wonderfest at Beacon Hill Country Park in May 2024 to help introduce families to nature who might not normally have easy access to the outdoors. The festival will forge a deep connection and understand among children and their families towards the natural world, specifically insects and birds within a forest eco-system. The activities that will take place during the festival will instil an appreciation for biodiversity. Activities will include: the creation of willow art installations, bird focused educational workshops, moth workshops and insect making workshops. Buzzing Roots will work with the Beacon Hill Country Park Rangers to deliver this event and subsidised travel will be available from Loughborough or Leicester to help people access the event.  

Groundwork Five Counties will deliver an eight-week programme for pre-school age children and their families to explore a local natural setting, using play to reconnect with nature and each other. This project is aimed at families within deprived areas of Swadlincote and will work to develop participating children’s self-confidence and social skills. Activities to be included in the sessions are: den building, junk modelling, creating bug hotels and a selection of creative activities that will support the children’s development, as well as building a relationship with the natural world.

Rising Together CIC will extend their Trailblazer programme to provide an inclusive and welcoming environment to South Asian women from Leicester to help them explore the National Forest and build a relationship with nature. Using a monthly programme of activities, Rising Together will support women’s personal growth through a range of themed wellbeing walks. These walks will help to create a community of like-minded individuals that feel comfortable and welcome within the National Forest.

Man forest bathing


Wild Minds CIC will target men within Burton upon Trent to engage in nature-based wellbeing activities to support their health and wellbeing. Utilising the Washlands, a series of regular, subsidised sessions for individuals and their families will be delivered that introduce participants to their local nature and will give them an understanding of the ways that they can utilise these spaces. Utilising social prescribing where possible, this project will encourage participation to continue after the sessions end to continue the benefits felt during the original programme.

Wildly Immersive Wellness will deliver community engagement sessions across the National Forest that foster a sense of wellness, promoting positive mental and physical health to all participants. The Wildly project will deliver outdoor wellness sessions in a number of different locations, building a sense of community within the participants of the sessions to help reduce social isolation, and enhance overall wellbeing. The activities within Wildly will be delivered in a number of ways, including workshops, events and half day retreats at different sites.

The National Forest Company’s 25-year vision shows that only by working together will nature, society and the economy all thrive, creating a greener and healthier future. The Forest Society grants will help people get closer to nature to benefit their mental and physical health. 

The projects will be delivered between April 2024 and March 2025, we look forward to seeing how they develop over the coming months and sharing updates as they progress.