A beautiful partnership with the Forestry Commission has led to the resounding success of our Branching Out project in Edinburgh. The programme, which took place every Monday for 12 weeks, centred round mindfulness and connecting people with nature: and that it did!

The partnership came about after an inspired conversation between friends on holiday; between one of our support practitioners and a Forestry Commission employee. From there, the Branching Out project idea was born.

Our St Stephens and Lochend services, and the Forestry Commission, then worked as a team to make the idea a reality.

A group of seven people we support and their support practitioners visited numerous areas around Edinburgh, engaging in activities such as bird watching, tai chi, conservation, picking berries for vinegar making and even taking a trip on the barge down the union canal which traverses through Edinburgh. A highlight for many was flower planting; they planted snow drops in the forest and are eagerly awaiting the opportunity to go and see them in full bloom in 2020. 

“All of us learnt so much, about the benefits of being outside and the importance that having some time in nature can have. It has really transformed people, given them a lot of confidence, and sparked new friendships.”


Special thanks must be handed out to the Forestry Commission. Not only did they invest in this partnership, but they truly went above and beyond by providing minibuses to and from all of the activities. This opportunity to travel together helped cement friendships and provide safety and security in numbers.

Everyone who took part received the John Muir Award at a special awards ceremony. Plus, the BBC were so taken by the project that they have been in touch to hear our story. We’re keeping our eyes peeled for the coverage!

“To have this effect and impact on those that got involved is just fantastic!”