Ali Jagger is the Participant Engagement Co-ordinator in Norfolk for the Green Light Trust, which uses the power of nature to support mental health. Ahead of a brand-new camp at Oxburgh Hall, aimed at young adults, she explains how her new job is her most rewarding role to date.
I’m Ali Jagger and I work for a charity called Green Light Trust. Short story: I fell in love with a Norfolk man, consequently fell in even bigger love with the huge skies of Norfolk and I relocated a few weeks ago to this stunning county! Previously, I worked at an Emergency Homeless Shelter in North Wales.
Green Light Trust began in 1989 to conserve and regenerate East Anglia’s stunning native woodland. Through its conservation work, there was a growing realisation that working outdoors in the woods benefits both people and nature.
Since then, we have gone from strength to strength. Thousands of people, who are faced with multiple challenges in their lives from mental health and wellbeing to living with addiction or long-term unemployment, have been supported by Green Light Trust. Each week, individuals, adults and children alike join our outdoor programmes; stop the world for a day, get off life’s relentless treadmill and forget their troubles for just a few short hours. At the same time, they discover new talents while making new friends.
We have the patience and the time to give individuals space – just to be – to feel refreshed by nature. The Green Light Trust is the catalyst which empowers people to help themselves.
We already have six well established sites in Suffolk, a further three in Norfolk – at RSPB Strumpshaw Fen, National Trust Blickling Estate and National Trust Oxburgh Hall is coming on stream this month.
I love what I do because I think I make a real difference to others. All of us know how the last two years have impacted our mental health and wellbeing – me included. The hour each day we were allowed outside for a walk really mattered to me. Not everyone was so lucky and many of us are felt the impact of isolation. I can really see how coming out into nature one a day week from 10am to 3pm makes a real difference – individuals look forward to the day in the woods as the highlight of their week and I can see their wellbeing improving as they make new friends, enjoy lunch, or a brew seated around the campfire. It is a real joy to watch and feel that by playing my part I am helping to change lives.
One of our participants recently told me: ‘Now that I have had these positive experiences, I feel amazed at how good life can be – having thought that all those negative feelings and lack of self-worth were entirely normal for so long. Instead of hiding way from people, I am curious about them, I want to engage with them instead of tailoring my behaviour to fit with what I thought would make them happy.’
The pandemic had a horrific impact on the number of women who were living with a violent or an abusive partner. Recently I was told the effect that attending a Green Light Trust course had been on one woman’s road to recovery and coming to terms with what she had been through: ‘I will be sure to highly recommend it to any other abuse victim as an extremely affective healing, recovery and life changing resource.’
It’s a real privilege to witness the impact of what we do as part of my job. The transformative, nurturing impact of being out in nature – it is the most fulfilling and rewarding role in my career to date.
We are very excited to be launching our brand-new camp at National Trust Oxburgh Hall. We have five courses for adults who are aged 16-25, starting in September and running until the end of November. We do run other courses for women only groups and for older adults – all the details are on our website.
If you are interested in potentially coming along or know someone who might need some support then please refer to Book a course, or if you have any questions please send me an email to email@example.com. We are always happy to help.
All our programmes are based around the needs of the individual as we recognise each person is faced with their own unique challenges and is on their own very personal journey. We are looking for anyone interested in building their self-confidence, self-esteem and improving their general well-being. While you are with us, you will be introduced to new skills such as woodworking, how to look after our native woodlands, the wonders of nature and how to cook on a campfire too! Our courses do get booked up very quickly but please just get in touch, and we can put you on the list and contact you when a place becomes available. Details of how you can get involved are at: www.greenlighttrust.org or anyone can contact me for more information or just a chat.
The course is from 10am-3pm one day each week for 6 weeks and is all outside in the woods! Come rain or shine. Our camp is under cover.
Activities are arranged around the capabilities and interests of each person on the course. There are lots of opportunities to learn new skills, make new friends and find a new talent that that you never knew you had. No experience is necessary. A Free lunch is served every day and we hope that you will help us prepare it. Days out in the woods are fun.
All our courses can be found on our website and you do not need to be referred by an agency – you just need to fill out the online application or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
If you would like to improve your wellbeing through engaging with the power of nature, then we hope to see you in the woods soon! Simply put, we just want everyone to enjoy the beauty and the healing power of nature.
Visit Green Light Trust.