Category: Top News

Published on: May 13th, 2024

More than just a home for animals

Although a safari park may not be the first thing you think of when thinking of a mental health hub, we're committed to more than just serving our animal community. We're dedicated to supporting our local community and the people that live here, through various programmes including ones specifically designed to promote mental wellbeing.

Perinatal Wellbeing Through Wildlife

In this programme, we're here to support expecting mothers or those with children up to two years old who are part of the NHS Perinatal Support Service. Our sessions are designed to boost wellbeing and reconnect with nature, plus, it's a fantastic opportunity to connect with others in similar situations. Children are also more than welcome as we want to make it as easy as possible for mothers to attend without worrying about childcare.

The group meet for weekly sessions lasting two hours each, over six weeks. These sessions offer a mix of mindfulness, animal encounters, and craft activities, all designed to give mothers a chance to focus on self-care and relaxation.

We've already received some wonderful feedback, "We really enjoyed the walk around today, can't wait to come back next week, the time flies by would be great if the day was longer. The Knowsley Safari staff was lovely & very easy to talk to."

Please note, this programme is run on a referral only system

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Wild & Well

One of our award-winning programmes is Wild and Well. Although currently on pause, it's gearing up for a September comeback, featuring an extended season until April 2025.

Tailored for children from Reception to Year 3, these sessions are free for schools in Knowsley, one of the UK's most underprivileged boroughs. Through these wildlife-inspired mental health and wellbeing sessions, we're breaking down barriers and making nature accessible to local children who might otherwise miss out. By spotlighting native species and habitats, we're transforming the safari experience into more than just a day out.

Last October, we expanded the programme to include hundreds more primary schools across the Liverpool City Region for £8.50 per pupil, providing even more children with the opportunity to reconnect with nature, thrive outdoors, and nurture their wellbeing.

Nikki Burton Mallott our Head of Learning and Discovery said: “There are many different studies linking the benefits of nature and wildlife to children with wellbeing and mental health.

“By expanding the reach of our Wild and Well sessions to children outside the Knowsley borough, we hope to be able to support hundreds more children with their mental wellbeing."

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NHS Wellbeing Through Wildlife

We work with teams of NHS staff to offer a refreshing break from office routines, reconnecting them with nature during a four-hour session. Our aim? To tackle work-related stress head-on and help teams strengthen their bonds.

Our activities include a blend of engaging animal encounters, such as feeding the safari's residents, and wellness and mindfulness exercises. One activity involves each team member reflecting on something they're grateful for, writing it on a leaf, and optionally sharing it with the group. These leaves can then be placed on our 'community tree' or kept as personal reminders of positivity to keep with them at work.

We're on a mission to reach over 400 NHS staff members through 34 sessions, all with the overarching goal of rekindling their connection with nature to improve their personal wellbeing, and the wellbeing of the teams taking part as a whole.

Please note, this programme is currently only open to Merseycare staff

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