Paul Barclay talking during a Wil Ways Well project workshop

Project: Wild Ways Well, Livingston

Providing opportunities for people to live happier and healthier lives through experiencing the greenspaces in the local area and the natural world around them


This three-year project in partnership with The Conservation Volunteers (TCV), Ladywell Neighbourhood Network (LNN), The National Lottery Community Fund and NHS Lothian Charity is creating beneficial links between spending time amongst nature and people’s wellbeing.

The project supports patients, staff and visitors to St John’s Hospital in Livingston to access and experience the natural spaces, species and activities that are on their doorstep. By doing this we want to support more people to live happier, healthier lives.

By taking part, people will be supported to realise just how easy it is to build contact with nature into their daily lives and the benefits that this can bring.

Bird on a branch
Contact with nature is often closer than we think (c) Lorne Gill, NatureScot

How you can take part

We offer free events and activities throughout the year.

Check our events page for upcoming events or contact Paul Barclay for more information: 07795 800970 or [email protected].

What we are doing

We are supporting people to spend more time outdoors amongst nature and working with them to realise the many ways the natural world can be accessed and experienced, quickly and easily, with minimal cost, equipment or experience. By creating opportunities for people, especially those who are less used to spending time outdoors, to experience their local greenspaces we want to create connections to natural world. Through these activities we are developing relationships between people and the natural world around them and aim to understand the barriers that prevent people from using the local greenspaces and work together to help remove them.

Beetle in a container
A closer look reveals nature on our doorstep – beetle in container

How we are doing it

We understand that in today’s modern society many people are so divorced from nature, or are in such a difficult position in their lives, that simply stepping outdoors can be daunting. At the same time, we also know that scientific research shows that this contact with nature is vital for everyone’s wellbeing – and there is a wealth of natural resources and opportunities to experience nature right on the doorsteps of St John’s Hospital and its surrounding community.

Building on TCV’s successful ‘Wild Ways Well’ model, we are working with the Hospital and the nearby Community Wellbeing Hub, as well as local community partners, to run regular Wild Ways Well sessions in and around the Hospital grounds and the local area. Wild Ways Well utilises the internationally recognised Five Ways to Wellbeing mental health framework and combines it with access to nature and greenspaces to provide support for anyone that needs it.

Staff from TCV are working with participants to design content appropriate for their experience and abilities, as well as offering regular sessions which are open for anyone to attend.

These sessions:

  • Provide a safe, supported setting for people to actively discover local greenspaces and to move between and within them.
  • Connect people with the natural world through simple actions like watching wildlife or trying out nature crafts.
  • Create opportunities to learn new skills like how to identify flowers and trees, or survey for bumblebees and listen for birdcalls.
  • Share what we have learned about local history, natural folklore and traditional outdoor skills.

What happens at a Wild Ways Well Session?

Two TCV mugs with flasks and hot chocolate
Two TCV mugs with flasks and hot chocolate

Each session is unique and responds to the needs of the people attending but they follow a similar pattern.

We’ll take notice of the cycle of life and the seasons, helping everyone to understand the lessons that nature can teach us about life. By providing opportunities to be creative and time for people to immerse themselves in a natural setting we’ll help them to reflect on the world and their place within it.

We’ll also help people to give something back to nature and to the local community. We can plant trees and build bug hotels, feed the birds and make habitats for hedgehogs. In partnership with West Lothian Council, we will have access to spaces where we can try hands on activities like growing wildflowers or looking after fruit trees.

Participants will get a chance to give back to nature and to their community. We can help to conserve and protect the natural world by creating and managing spaces for wildlife, building bird houses, and monitoring biodiversity. We’ll share experiences and support each other to become more resilient and to absorb the lessons nature can teach us.

And we’ll do it all with a cup of tea!

By making and sharing hot drinks outdoors using traditional techniques, we can provide opportunities for people to engage with each other, as well as with nature, in a safe space where people are supported and empowered to be their real selves.

Read Paul Barclay’s latest update

Paul Barclay, The Conservation Volunteers, Senior Project Officer, shares his updates over the last few months of our Wild Ways Well project.

pressed flowers

How you can take part

We offer free events and activities throughout the year:

  • Wild Ways Well (open sessions) – These are regular sessions for anyone to attend, including gardening activities in the Howden Walled Garden and Wellbeing Walks in the Ladywell area. See our events page for details.
  • Wild Ways Well (closed sessions) – These are designed to meet the needs of specific groups and spaces are limited to those groups. Please contact Paul Barclay for more information.
  • Pop up events and activities – You can join us for free events thoughtout the year. These will range form wildlife walks, arts activities and local history. These events will be added to our Events page as dates become available, so check back regularly to find out what’s coming up.

Sign up to one of our Wild Wells Well sessions

Visit our events page to sign up to one of our free events

Check our events page regularly or follow us on social media (@nhslothcharity) to get notified of events as they become available. If you need more information contact Paul on 07795 800970 or [email protected].

Working together to improve health and wellbeing across Edinburgh and Lothians

Want to know more?

To find out more, or join one of our sessions, contact Paul Barclay – [email protected] or call 07795 800 970

Grounds for Health Projects

People stood in the Access Place garden. Around the garden are planters with flowers and benches.

Access Place

Revitalisation work at Access Place has turned a neglected area into a greenspace and garden for both staff and service users.
Read more
REH site map by Andy Archer

You place for greenspace, Royal Edinburgh Hospital

As part of a move to create a more inviting atmosphere for patients, staff and visitors at the Royal Edinburgh Hospital we’ve teamed up with a local artist, Andy Archer, to create a series of hand-drawn illustrative artworks highlighting the green spaces and charity partners connected to the Royal Edinburgh Hospital.
Find out more
Wildlife at the Western

Wildlife at the Western

Find out more about the different kinds of greenspaces that are available for patients, visitors and staff to use on the doorstep of our hospitals.
Find out more
Community Gardens at REH

Green Health Activity Pathway

This three year project led by the Cyrenians will establish a sustainable person-centred green health activity pathway at the Royal Edinburgh Hospital.
Find out more
Green Social Prescribing workshop

Wild Ways Well, Livingston

Supporting people to access and experience the natural spaces, species and activities that are on their doorstep in order to live happier, healthier lives.
Find out more
Royal Infirmary Edinburghfrom the air

Biodiversity Audit

NHS Lothian is the first health board in Scotland to undertake a comprehensive assessment of the biodiversity of the green spaces in its estate, to help reduce the health board’s overall carbon footprint and to use its green spaces to improve the health and wellbeing of the communities it serves.
Find out more
Astley Ainslie Hospital, NHS Lothian

A Greenspace Management Plan for Astley Ainslie Hospit…

As well as providing a range of services for its patients, Astley Ainslie represents a considerable community asset and a significant place for nature.
Find out more