Cumbernauld’s Palacerigg Country Park has proved a godsend for local people battling mental health problems - thanks to a flagship scheme run by Forestry Commission Scotland.
A group of nine people using mental health services in Cumbernauld have just taken part in an awards ceremony staged to mark the completion of a ten week course in the park, called Branching Out.
It delivers mental, physical and social benefits for people with mental health problems by helping with confidence building, increasing physical activity and greater independence.
Nathalie Moriarty, who runs the scheme, said: “Everybody who took part is encouraged to get involved in other local activities to keep them moving forward with their progress. It can be life changing.”
Referred from the Cumbernauld Central Health Centre, many of those taking part struggle with severe depression and anxiety.
A participant on the course said: “I was apprehensive about starting and meeting the other people who were taking part, but it gave me an incentive to get out of bed.
“The rangers are top notch and I’ll miss them now we’ve finished.”
The course was delivered by staff from North Lanarkshire Council’s Countryside Ranger service.
They have all been trained and accredited by Forestry Commission Scotland.
Ranger Davie Macfarlane said: “We’ve helped more than 100 people through Branching Out programmes in Palacerigg Country Park and we see a huge difference in the participants as the weeks go by.
“Our attendees have been so enthusiastic that we’ve recently launched a fortnightly volunteer group.”
He added: “It is fantastic to see so many people from this and previous courses back helping to build a footpath.”