THE MP for Penrith has has given his backing to the work of ‘The Wilderness Programme’ - which runs some of its activities in Cumbria.

Dr Neil Hudson, who represents Penrith and the Border area, supported the work of the programme this week and encouraged constituents to make use of some of the areas of countryside that the programme does for wellbeing purposes.

The general manager of the programme, Greg Wilson, said that “Wilderness therapy programmes are recognised worldwide as an innovative approach to addressing, dealing with, and resolving a wide range of behavioural and mental health issues.”

“A growing volume of scientific evidence gathered from around the world helps to inform and underline the fact that nature and natural environments have a very positive and influencing factor on human health and wellbeing.”

“The idea is really simple: if a person simply visits a natural area in an open and relaxed way there are calming, rejuvenating and restorative benefits to be achieved.

We have always known this intuitively, but in the past few decades there have been numerous scientific studies that demonstrate the mechanisms behind the healing effects of simply being in wild and natural areas.”

Unique to the UK, ‘The Wilderness Programme’ is a unique opportunity for anyone proactively seeking to exist in a new and more positive way.

It is specifically designed to help meet the needs of adult individuals needing ‘Time Out’ or struggling with aspects of life. The programme is also for those coming to terms with, or in recovery of issues such as addictions, professional burn out, stress, anxiety, depression, PTSD and other mental health issues.

Working in association with the RSPB (Royal Society for the Protection of Birds) and operating on the RSPB Haweswater reserve, the programme aims to generate the core benefits listed above through total immersion in wild, natural and remote locations both here and at sites across the UK.

RSPB Haweswater, situated on United Utilities land, in the beautiful eastern Lake District, is comprised of a mix of upland habitats which support a richness of wildlife, and thrive alongside traditional farming practices. Mardale, Naddle and Swindale Valleys are within the reserve’s boundaries, in addition to upland commons, which support an incredible diversity of wildlife.

The forests of Naddle and Swindale support Red Squirrels and Badgers, alongside birds such as Tawny Owls, Redstarts, and Pied and Spotted Flycatcher, with the fells in between home to migratory Ring Ouzel, Wheatear and rutting Red Deer in autumn.

The recently-restored Swindale Beck welcomes the return of Salmon and Trout each year, and in turn supports Otters and birds such as Dippers and Grey Herons.

Wildflower hay meadows, SSSI (Site of Special Scientific Interest) habitat, surround the banks of Swindale Beck - where many species of butterfly, beetle, bee, dragonfly and other invertebrates can be found.

The Wilderness Programme combines coaching psychology and an altruistic and diverse range of appropriately prescribed outdoor activities and experiential past times - which enable those who take part to build self-esteem, confidence and to challenge and enhance their 'everyday' physical, emotional and spiritual comfort levels.

Each programme in Wilderness Escapes is tailor made to suit the aims and wishes of the participant/s and can vary in terms of duration and location.

Typically, programmes are run in remote parts of the Lake District National Park, Eden Valley, the Pennines or in the Highlands and north-west Scotland.

“We have refined The Wilderness Programme over years to help address the needs and wellbeing of a growing number of people unable to cope with the rigours of modern life.

"We know intuitively and through more recent studies that Wilderness environments hold many benefits for the human psyche,” the programme leader, Greg Wilson, explained.

“We also know that the environment in which our participants became ill are often not the environment that can help make them better. So, the programme is a unique experiential opportunity for those people needing to change harmful habits and to re-engage with their lives and the world around them.”

Commenting on the programme, Dr Neil Hudson MP for Penrith and The Border said: “I am very happy to support the work of ‘The Wilderness Programme’, especially when we know that for many people the Covid-19 pandemic has been a great strain on their mental health.

"The mental health benefits of being outdoors are well-documented and it was great to hear more about the type of programmes that are offered from General Manager Greg Wilson.

"We are blessed with beautiful countryside throughout Cumbria and I would encourage constituents to make the most of it in an enjoyable and safe way.”