What is Natural Choices?
Natural Choices in Dorset aims to encourage and enable people to improve their physical health and mental well-being through different activities within the natural environment. Natural Choices is open to all but is particularly beneficial to people who may have been identified with experiencing low risk physical health and/or mental health problems such as those leading sedentary lifestyles who wish to get more active and/or those with low mood, mild anxiety or stress.
Natural Choices provides health care professionals with an easy pathway to signpost people to a wide range of providers offering activities using the natural environment.
A timetable of activities under Natural Choices is passed onto referral bodies including the LiveWell Dorset team, and carers support teams who can refer clients onto relevant activities to help them achieve their health and wellbeing aspirations. Individuals can also make a self-referral directly to an activity (contacts are listed in the programme details).
Natural Choices now has activities which are Accredited and Non-accredited to help people to choose which activity to try and to give assurances to those referring or signposting to the programme:
- Accredited activities are regular (weekly/fortnightly) and activity providers have public liability insurance and health and safety policies.
- Non-accredited activities are less frequent (e.g. monthly) and/or providers are community groups without insurances or policies but activities are equally beneficial to health and wellbeing.
How do I take part in the Natural Choices activities?
You can take part in Natural Choices activities through a number of ways: speak to your doctor or make a self-referral to LiveWell Dorset, through carers support services, or directly via the Natural Choices providers. Details of activities under Natural Choices are listed below.
Natural Choices include activities such as mindfulness, Park Yoga, gardening, health walks and conservation activities.
Click on the links below for details of Accredited activities in your area (including activity details, booking information and costs – many are free). Please contact the activity provider to book and to check the session is taking place.
- Activities in Bournemouth
- Activities in East Dorset
- Activities in North and Mid-Dorset
- Activities in Poole
- Activities in Swanage and Purbeck
- Activities in West Dorset
- Activities in Weymouth and Portland
You can download the Full list of Natural Choices Activities list here (you are welcome to attend activities outside of your area).
New activities will be added as they come forward. Or visit our events page for more information.
The National Trust have developed a 31 day outdoor gym exercise plan which can be done in many outdoor spaces (equipment generally not needed).
Evaluation of Natural Choices
In autumn 2018 Natural Choices worked with Public Health Community Fellowship Wessex and a group of F2 doctors and a GP trainee to undertake some evaluation of Natural Choices Activities. The reports are available below:
- Exploring the health and wellbeing benefits of nature-based activities – Dr Katherine Conway, Dr Arun Mukkavilli and Dr Helen Adams
- Tackling loneliness in the community through nature-based activities – Dr Sarah Osafo
How does my activity become part of the Natural Choice brand?
If you run an activity which could come under the Natural Choices brand please read the criteria and responsibility document below.
If you would like to register please complete the following forms:
Activities can be submitted at any point.
If you would like to discuss specific activities please contact the individual provider. If you would like discuss the programme as whole contact Maria Clarke, LNP Manager on firstname.lastname@example.org or 01305 264620.
Natural Choices Pilot
Following the pilot project in Weymouth and Portland, the Dorset LNP is leading a working group to roll out Natural Choices across Bournemouth, Dorset and Poole. You can find out more about the Weymouth and Portland pilot on the film below.