More than 100 local young people and families have benefitted from an innovative nature-based course, designed to help improve their emotional health and wellbeing and help them reach their full potential.

Young people can come along to weekly ecotherapy sessions, where they can take part in informal nature-related activities. It’s also an opportunity for them to meet new people and make new friends

Evidence shows ecotherapy can reduce stress, boost mood and improve physical health.

The sessions are delivered by Manchester-based social enterprise Sow the City and the borough’s emotional health and wellbeing service #Thive, which is run by Pennine Care NHS Foundation Trust, Youth in Mind (part of Tameside, Oldham and Glossop Mind) and Link4Life.

Naomi, 36, and her daughter Erica, 7, live in Heywood and have been attending the ecotherapy sessions.

Naomi said “My daughter Erica has social and communication difficulties and struggles with large groups. The sessions have given her confidence because she can focus on the activity and interact with other children in a more natural way.”

Jen O’Neill, #Thrive service lead, said: “Our team aims to support children and young people who are experiencing low-level emotional or mental health issues. We work in partnership with lots of other organisations to offer young people less traditional types of support – such as the ecotherapy sessions. Other examples are sport, art and drama activities.

“The feedback we receive is really positive. It’s really rewarding to know that we are all making a positive difference to the lives of young people and their families.”

Kieron McGlasson is a project manager for Sow the City and runs the ecotherapy sessions. He said: “Even in the middle of Rochdale there is opportunity for young people to benefit from the healing power of nature.

“We have converted the balcony of the #Thrive hub café into a food growing space, we use natural materials for art sessions and we organise regular trips to local parks and community gardens with the young people. It’s great to see young people getting so much out of the sessions.”

To find out more about #Thrive and the activities available, people can phone 0161 716 2844 or visit

GM Green City Logo