Skip to main content

Free Emotional and Mental Wellbeing support for the young LGBTQ+ community

How we can help

Being young and Queer might mean you have experienced things in life that have negatively impacted your mental health. Perhaps you may be exploring your gender identity or sexuality and feel isolated.

The Wild Mind Project offers a safe space in nature to share your thoughts or feelings with other queer young people, who are probably experiencing the same emotions or share the same worries as you.

Our programmes encourage you to connect with nature, which is now known to help with anxiety and depression. We combine nature activities with creative activities to help you relax. Importantly, you will have the opportunity to meet a group of new supportive friends that will last beyond the programme.

But don’t take our word for it, this is written by one of the young people who attended our programmes:

“When my then-care coordinator suggested I join The Wild Mind Project, I had no way of knowing what an incredible impact on my life it would have. At the time I was isolated, severely unwell and felt completely hopeless. I was struggling with anxiety, crippling depression and had only just been diagnosed with ASD. I was also desperately trying to suppress the inevitable truth of my identity, withdrawing not only from society but also from myself. Yet three years on I have fulfilling relationships, a job I enjoy and a desire not only to live, but to live happily as myself. TWMP was a turning point for me. It helped me reconnect with the small pleasures of life. It helped me find a community. I met my most cherished friends at TWMP, people who mean the world to me. I also saw other trans people taking steps towards their own happiness. If I hadn’t seen that I honestly don’t know if I would still be here today. TWMP showed me that there was still beauty in this world despite my despair. It helped give me the confidence to re-emerge into life. The person I am now is almost unrecognisable -not just because of the HRT. I am writing this from a small mountain hut in the Pyrenees, enjoying the beauty of the natural world TWMP helped me to see”.

Who we support

We support young people experiencing anxiety, depression or other mental health conditions that may be resolvable. Most of our programmes are for young people aged 16 to 25, but some LGBTQ+ programmes are also for 11 to 15-year-olds. Any young person under 16 will need their parent or guardian to book them on to one of our programmes. Young people 16 or over can book online themselves. We also welcome referrals.

LGBTQ+

We run programmes specifically for young people from the LGBTQ+ community (programmes are available for 11 to 15 and 16 to 25-year-olds) who need support with their emotional or mental wellbeing. Young people questioning their gender or sexual identity are very welcome. We offer a safe and confidential space to share experiences and concerns where new and supportive friendships can be formed.

Young people

Our general programmes are for young people aged 16 to 25 experiencing mental ill-health.

We engage young people in a range of nature interventions, creative activities and mindful exercises that can improve their wellbeing. They will leave with a toolbox of wellbeing strategies they can use throughout their lives.

Specialist Groups

We occasionally run programmes for particularly vulnerable groups, such as young people with learning disabilities or young carers aged 16 to 25.

If you have a young group you would like us to run a programme for; please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

What happens at a typical session?

Each session lasts for two hours and is run by our highly experienced wellbeing lead. We also have there one or two of our amazing volunteers who usually either have lived experience of mental ill-health and/or identify as queer.

A maximum of ten young people (often less) attend each session.

The venue

Our programmes take place at a private south-facing plot at Stanmer Organics in Stanmer Park, Brighton, which is bursting with and surrounded by nature.

The 900 square metre plot has a number of ponds, a small orchard, native trees, wildflowers and herbs, a fire pit, and areas of grass.

We erect a large gazebo if shelter is needed. A wood burner, firepit and blankets are available to keep you warm. Camp lights and fairy lights are available if it gets dark. We have the odd deck chair and plenty of camping stools. If you prefer to sit on the ground, we have ground- sheets to sit on if the grass is wet.

We have a quiet, secluded area that you can retreat to if you need time alone.

There are compost toilets 250 meters away. Compost toilets look similar to conventional toilets, but there is no flushing mechanism. The compost toilets near our plot are set up in separate wooden cubicles with lockable doors. You can use toilet paper as normal, but Sanitary products should be placed in the bin provided unless you are sure that they are made of 100% natural materials, which is rare. There is a tap and soap available to wash your hands. Alternatively, if open, plumbed toilets are available at the One Garden, 570 meters away (8 mins walk).

There is a tap with drinking water at our plot, and we offer tea, coffee, herbal teas and hot chocolate. Only cows’ milk is supplied, so if you have any other preferences, please feel free to bring your own.

Directions

We will be meeting each week at The Wild Mind Project plot at Stanmer Organics, Stanmer Park, Brighton, BN1 9PZ.

Bus route #78 goes from Brighton to Stanmer Village. The 78 bus will get you to Stanmer Village Church and then there is a 10 min walk to our plot. 78 Bus Timetable.

Bus routes 23, 25, 25X, 28 and 29 run between the centre of Brighton and the entrance to Stanmer Park. From the entrance, it is about a 20 min walk to our plot.

The nearest train station is Falmer. It is a 25 min walk (1.2 miles) to our plot from the station.

If you are cycling to the venue, you can bring your bike into the plot so it will be safe.

If you are coming by car, there is parking at the Patchway Carpark – parking fees are applicable, but please note that ticket machines do not accept cash. We suggest you register for PayByPhone.

The what3words location is: ///duck.clouds.supper

Please click on the How to find us link for a map of Stanmer Park and videos showing the route from the park entrance and from the bus stop in Stanmer Village.

What happens when you arrive

Arriving for the first time can feel scary, but you are not alone; most people feel anxious. You will be greeted by a member of staff or a volunteer and invited to sit down with the group.

If you join a programme, you will be asked to complete a simple evaluation questionnaire during the first and last sessions. Additionally, at the start and finish of any session (programme or drop-in), you will be handed a sheet with six words. Please indicate your strength of feeling about each word by circling a score of between 1 and 5. A staff member or volunteer will go through evaluations with you and offer help as needed. Grant funders require evaluation feedback from us before they will give further funding. We realise completing forms can be annoying, but it is essential that you please fully and honestly answer all the questions. The data will be collected confidentially, and any presented data will be anonymous.

We also ask you to write your name on a sticky label (with your pronouns if you choose) so we all don’t struggle remembering names.

At the first session of a programme, staff will give a brief introduction. This will include a health and safety talk and a chat about the benefits of nature and creative activities. There will only be a short health and safety talk at a drop-in session.

If you feel awkward sitting and listening, don’t worry; we will provide some fidget and sensory toys, plus pencils and paper you can doodle with to help.

Finally, we will go around the group simply saying our names (and pronouns if you wish). If you don’t want to speak, let a staff member know on your phone or paper, and we can introduce you.

Nature activities

Usually, we spend the first hour doing some form of nature activity. It may be going for a walk around Stanmer Organics to identify wildflowers, herbs, trees or fungi (no prior knowledge required) or to forage for food. It might mean creating or maintaining habitat at the plot, weeding or planting, managing the compost heaps, clearing brambles or nettles, pruning trees, etc. This space is for you, but it needs to be maintained, and we need your help, so please try to get involved. The important point is that time in nature is SO good for your mental health and for getting to know each other – you may be surprised.

Creative activities

The second hour is often spent doing a creative activity. You don’t have to be good at art to benefit from or enjoy this part of the session.  Creative activities are very relaxing and offer an opportunity to chat, if you choose to.

We try to do a broad range of activities, including foraging for plants to dye fabric with or oak wasp galls to make ink from. We might basket weave, do pottery, carve wood, weave fabric, needle felt, lino-cut, draw or cook on an open fire.

Workshops

Occasionally, we invite a specialist in to run a workshop, which typically lasts for the full two hours. This may be Froglife doing a workshop on amphibians, a basket weaver, a wild food nutritionist, a wood carver or a foraging expert, for example.

Meditation

We get that grounding exercises and meditation are not for everyone, but if you haven’t tried it, you should give it a go. We will offer grounding exercises and meditation (generally focused on nature) that you can choose to join, if you wish.

Unable to attend

Programmes may be offered free of charge, but we spend a great deal of time applying for grants and planning each session. Funding is spent on sufficient materials for the number of people who have booked the programme. So, if you change your mind about attending, please let us know as soon as possible.

If you are unwell, then, of course, we understand, but again, please let us know.

If, due to anxiety, you feel you just can’t face it on the day, please let us know; maybe we can help.

Thank you for your consideration.

When the programme finishes

It doesn’t have to end here!

You can, of course, sign up to join another of our programmes.

If you are 16 or over, we will ask you if you wish to join our WhatsApp group so you can stay in touch and share information.

If you are from the LGBTQ+ community and can’t commit to another 3 to 5-week programme, perhaps you might like to join us at one of our monthly drop-in sessions.

We also have a list of activities you can go on to volunteer with.

Accessibility

Mobility:

  • The nearest parking is approximately 450m away at Patchway car park.
  • The track leading to the venue is potholed and often muddy.
  • The venue is uneven grass with a number of narrow, often overgrown, uneven paths. It is not suitable for wheelchair users.
  • The nearest toilets are compost toilets 250m away, which are accessed by climbing two deep steps. Alternatively, there are plumbed accessibility toilets at One Garden, approximately 570m away (subject to One Garden opening hours).

Acoustics:

  • The venue is in a private relatively secluded area surrounded by nature. However, there are adjacent plots that may be running events that might create noise.
  • The Wild Mind Project activities sometimes include noises such as hammering, sawing or strimming.

Visibility: 

  • The venue is in an unlit area of Stanmer Park. It can get dark in winter months when we rely on camping lights to see. Please be aware that the track leading to the venue is also not lit.

Quiet area:

  • There is a quiet area with a bench at the venue where you can retreat to if you wish to be alone. Neurodiverse fidget toys and drawing pads and pencils are available.

Donations

It is getting harder to secure funding to run our programmes free of charge. If you are in a financial position that enables you to make a donation towards the cost of attending a programme, we would be so grateful if you could donate £25 or more. Thank you.

Useful Links

If you need additional support or have a mental health crisis or emergency, see our Useful Links page for a range of organisations that can help.

Our programmes

The Wild Mind Project has designed programmes that improve our connectedness to nature. The unique combination of nature interventions, creative activities and mindful exercises can benefit our mental health considerably. Our programmes can complement or offer an alternative to therapy.

Sign up now

Online booking form

Online referral form