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Published: 24 Jun 2021

Wild and Well: Growing a Phoenix Forest at Glenlude

Planting trees in the Phoenix Forest to commemorate and celebrate people who overcome drug and alcohol problems.

Wild and Well logo olive outline on rectangle

Phoenix Futures works with people across the UK to help them conquer drug and alcohol addiction, partly through its pioneering programme - Recovery through Nature (RTN).

Situated in the Scottish Borders, Glenlude is one of nine properties cared for by the John Muir Trust and home to Scotland’s first Phoenix Forest.

RTN service users volunteer at Glenlude to help create the Scottish Phoenix Forest. Native trees are planted to commemorate and celebrate the recovery journey of everyone who has completed their programme with Phoenix Futures. “Conservation work is a great leveller” says Paul, a service user, “and that is what makes it such good therapy.”

The first tree of the forest was planted by Lesley from Glasgow who completed the John Muir Award and went on to do an apprenticeship with the Forestry Commission.

I’ve learned lots of new skills and I’m more confident and happier all round than ever before.

“Outdoor experiences changing people’s lives is a bit of a cliché. But with Lesley it’s true. Doing the John Muir Award has helped Lesley find her interest, and she says it helped her gain the placement too.” Marion Logan, Phoenix Futures, Director of Operations

John Muir Award

The John Muir Trust’s educational initiative, the John Muir Award, is an environmental award that encourages people of all backgrounds to connect with, enjoy and care for wild places.

Phoenix Futures has been delivering the John Muir Award as part of its Recovery Through Nature programme since 2006. The Award gives service users a goal to work towards and recognises their achievements.

Over 500 Awards have been achieved through the partnership with Phoenix Futures, each one representing a personal accomplishment. The parallels between restoring the native woodland that used to grow in the area and restoring the confidence and skills of service users through conservation are evident as this quote from Stuart from Cumbernauld demonstrates:

When I was very young, my dad sometimes took me to the Campsie Hills nearby and so he planted a seed. But I went off the rails in my teens. This has brought me back to that. It’s also given me a sense of responsibility I never had before.

Pine branches 2 - David Lintern

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