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Norfolk man sets up a unique outdoor therapy group for young people

PUBLISHED: 04:31 23 September 2017 | UPDATED: 04:31 23 September 2017

Ryan Doubleday pictured set up Nature and Nurture a groundbreaking outdoor therapy for young people. Picture: Simon Watson

Ryan Doubleday pictured set up Nature and Nurture a groundbreaking outdoor therapy for young people. Picture: Simon Watson

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A man who lost his parents when he was a teenager has set up a unique outdoor therapeutic service for children and young people.

Ryan Doubleday who runs Nature and Nurture outdoor therapy takes young people boating on the broads to improve wellbeing. Picture: Simon Watson Ryan Doubleday who runs Nature and Nurture outdoor therapy takes young people boating on the broads to improve wellbeing. Picture: Simon Watson

A man who lost his parents when he was a teenager has set up a unique outdoor therapeutic service for children and young people.

Ryan Doubleday from Mulbarton was sent to a therapist as a 15-year-old and told to lie down on a couch and talk about his problems following his parents’ death.

It was this awkward painful experience that inspired the support worker from Nelson’s Journey bereavement charity to deliver outdoor therapy throughout Norfolk.

And most recently he has set up a group at Wortham Ling near Diss, which is currently being used by 15 children and young people who have emotional or mental health issues.

Young people take part in outdoor activities where they can connect with nature and themselves alongside skilled practitioners. Picture: Simon Watson Young people take part in outdoor activities where they can connect with nature and themselves alongside skilled practitioners. Picture: Simon Watson

What’s unique about the support he and his team of practitioners deliver is a strong belief in the therapeutic value of nature.

Instead of sitting at a table and talking about their concerns Ryan involves the young people in activities such as walking in the woods, boating on the broads, kayaking, canoeing and even camping retreats.

He says: “Nature is therapeutic. In a modern world we are disconnected from nature.

“Our aim is to help people connect with nature and connect with themselves.”

The children’s bereavement support worker has worked in hospitals with adults with mental health issues and in schools with children with special educational needs. He also trains staff at schools about children and young people and their wellbeing.

He says that while young people are engaged in the outdoor activities alongside his team of skilled practitioners a bond is formed and trust develops and they are more likely to open up about their concerns.

Those that come to his groups may be suffering bereavement, stress, depression or anxiety. They may be self-harming or have developed an eating disorder.

“Being involved in an activity means children and young people feel more liberated to be open and be themselves.

“A lot of outward bound courses- as good as they are – are not suitable for children who have a higher emotional need. We are skilled in the areas where our participants need support.

“Often they feel different from their peer group at school or college but feel happier in the group across the age range because of shared emotional experiences. “What we notice is a massive increase in feelings of self worth and self esteem,” said Mr Doubleday.

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