© James Ratchford / WTML

Welcoming community groups to the Lost Woods

We all know the value of outdoor spaces to play, relax and connect with nature. But not all communities are able to access them.  

If you belong to – or run – a community group in rural Sussex, we can help support you to connect a broader range of people to their local woods.

Everyone is welcome as we turn our Lost Woods into Loved Woods. These are our ancient woodlands, our shared histories – and our wild spaces to enjoy and protect today.

Who is this support for?

Social, financial and health inequalities in Sussex leave many groups of people disadvantaged. Communities in rural areas can be isolated as support services focus on urban coastal areas. We call these groups 'underserved communities’.  

Lost Woods is working with underserved community groups and services to support children, young people and adults with challenges around physical health, mental health, and/or learning disabilities.

Spending time in woodlands improves our physical and mental health. It can even relieve high blood pressure and symptoms of stress and depression. And it’s usually free – but it can be hard to know how to get started. If you are a part of a group within the project area who would like support to get involved, please contact us.

‘Ben loved it… It’s just such a struggle to get him out the door these days, covid etc has left him quite anxious. Thank you for a lovely morning’ – parent of a participant

© AirS  

© AirS

How our team will work with you

We’ll meet with group leaders and participants to understand what you’d like to get out of your woodland activities. We’ll work together to design and run the sessions, and help you overcome any barriers to getting involved. Your group will also become part of our wider Lost Woods community, where you can access training and meet other people with a shared love for their local woodland.

Meet your community development team

The team is here to help, answer any questions, and support everyone to get involved with their local woods.

Mark, community development worker

I’ve worked in education for the Soil Association and an international development charity that supports communities in rural Zambia. I’ve also worked on the Queen’s Green Canopy tree planting project, encouraging people to plant trees in East Sussex for Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee. Joining the Lost Woods Team in 2023, I’m looking forward to hearing from all the groups working towards thriving woodlands in the Low Weald.

Karen, community development team leader

My past roles have varied from direct work with disabled children, young carers and anxious teenagers to training staff, volunteers, parents and carers. I discovered the Lost Woods project and joined the team in 2020, after taking forest school training to complement the mindfulness classes I was teaching.

Cathy, Lost Woods community development worker

I’m an author, journalist, Forest School leader, psychotherapist and mother with a passion for connecting people with the outdoors. I have worked with underserved communities in London and Sussex, teaching cycling and running Forest School and woodland activities sessions with young people and families. I also work for the NHS providing psychotherapy and counselling to young people. I grew up in Sussex and live on the edge of the South Downs.

Training courses for community groups

Each year, you and your group are welcome to join our training courses and themed networking events. These include:

  • identifying flora and fauna
  • woodland wellbeing activities such as art, play and mindfulness
  • woodland crafts
  • leading walks in woodlands and outdoor settings
  • first aid for outdoor activities

Most courses are free and all are designed in response to groups’ needs. There are also spaces available on courses we’re running for local landowners, conservation groups, woodland workers and apprentices.

Please see our main training pages and get in touch with ideas on the training topics you’d like to see covered.

Are you in a conservation group?

We can support you to build on your skills and experience – and discover the rewards of including new volunteers with different needs.