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8 May 2019

Phoenix Forest continues to grow at Glenlude

More trees planted to celebrate people who have successfully completed a Phoenix Futures programme

Sarah, Karen and John Web Early May saw Glenlude manager Karen Purvis and new Glenlude conservation ranger Sarah Livingstone* (both pictured above) welcome our partners Phoenix Futures to the Scottish Borders for their annual planting day.

Sarah and Karen^ Glenlude team Sarah and Karen with native tree seedlings.

The UK-wide charity has been helping people overcome drug and alcohol problems for 50 years. Its Recovery Through Nature (RTN) programme – supported by our main engagement initiative the John Muir Award – has had particularly strong results.

Catkins^ Some of the older trees in the Phoenix Forest are now a source of seed for natural regeneration to occur.

Phoenix Futures has been coming to Glenlude for eight years or so. Every year new groups come to plant trees to celebrate achievements throughout the organisation – and the team feel that the resulting ‘Phoenix Forest’ very much feels part of their therapeutic community.

David Brockett, Service Manager Phoenix Futures' Scottish Residential Service says: “Individuals who engage with RTN once a week are far more likely to complete their programme because it gets you out of the house; it gets you to bond with your peers in a different way; it connects you to nature and gives you a different outlook on life.

Job well done^ Recovery Through Nature, the John Muir Award and Glenlude work their magic.

Jon Hall, Commissioning & Development Manager Phoenix Futures, says that as well as being enjoyable, the RTN programme delivers results: “Outcomes show a 41 per cent increase in people’s recovery compared to the national average.”

Also helping to build up the service users’ self-esteem is our John Muir Award. Jon says it’s key to their programmes in England and Scotland: “Many of our people have done nothing like that before. It’s not a qualification. It recognises people’s commitment gives them a fantastic sense of achievement.”

Celebrating at the end ^ Celebrating adding 131 more trees to the Phoenix Forest.

This year’s planting event was attended by groups from Glasgow, North Lanarkshire and Fife (sadly the Wirral minibus broke down). The teams planted 131 birch and rowan trees representing everyone who successfully passed through one of Phoenix Futures’ community or residential programmes.

Phoenix futures forest ^ Six years on, Glenlude’s Phoenix Forest starts to hold its own against the mature plantation backdrop.

Glenlude manager Karen Purvis says: "Thanks to the tremendous effort of service users and staff from Phoenix Futures, we now have almost 2000 trees that are well established, growing without any protection and starting to produce seed.

"We look forward to continuing to develop Phoenix Forest and our partnership with Phoenix Futures over the coming years. I believe we all have something to be very proud of here."

*Sarah's role as Glenlude conservation officer is funded by the ALA Green Trust who wanted to fund paid work experience for young people starting out in a career in conservation.