“My partner always notices when I’ve been out on a Human-Nature Escape — he can always tell that my mood has been lifted.”
Steph has been a weekly participant for 4+ years and became our ‘Connect Advocate’ — bringing her skills in business networking, marketing & social media. She created and co-ordinates the ‘Friends with Human-Nature’ Facebook group. She brings lived experience and insight into the challenges and stresses of being a carer of a family member with learning difficulties, whilst carefully balancing these responsibilities with her own career. Steph is a keen photographer/videographer with skills in video animation and enjoys outdoor activities like rock climbing and hill running.
“Once I start my journey home from our walks I realise I have not given a thought to my ‘other life’ of chaos, issues, and busyness.”
Linda started as a weekly participant after seeing a newspaper article about the Human-Nature project, and attending the launch event. She joined the project after feeling a sense of loss of purpose, following early retirement from a teaching career in special needs education. Linda showed a particular talent for using all her senses to notice and appreciate nature — so was our natural choice for the role of ‘Notice Advocate’.
“Working with Jake & the Human-Nature team is a real privilege, they’re really innovative in their thinking. They are interested in more than just their own project, but beyond into how projects can be linked together to optimise community outcomes.”
Alex is new to the team as ‘Learn Advocate’ but has been supportive of the project’s progress over a number of years, sharing her wisdom and acting as ‘sounding board’ on strategic direction and new learning opportunities. As Social Entrepreneur Support Manager for UnLtd her remit covers Midlands and Northern England, but Alex has a particular interest in her own community region of North Staffs, as a ‘Resilient Community’ receiving recent targetted support. Alex chairs the local SE peer mentoring hub and shares learning between organisations like Human-Nature, facilitating and hosting ‘Learning Journeys’ between North Staffs and other UK localities. She’s been instrumental in helping Staffordshire become a formally recognised ‘Place of Social Enterprise’ with SEUK and is a recent Pioneers Post/NatWest Women in Social Enterprise ‘WISE 100’ Award Winner.
As a keen outdoors person, with significant experience out on the water as a rower, she now enjoys sharing the love of outdoors and Staffordshire landscapes with her young son, teaching him the wellbeing enjoyment benefits of nature connectedness.
Director & Learn Advocate
“I found the Human-Nature activities to be a key part in helping me recover from personal crisis. I am now enjoying many aspects of my life rather than simply surviving.”
Nick started as a weekly participant and conservation volunteer 4+ years ago, becoming our ‘Give Advocate’, and more recently joining Jake as a co-director. He brings a wealth of mental wellbeing expertise from a career in the NHS as Occupational Therapist & CBT Therapist. His lived experience includes overcoming challenges of bereavement loss of his wife, but thankfully Nick found companionship and now a new partner, who he has met through the Human-Nature project.
“Spending my days within green space environments and close to wildlife and nature makes me appreciate the benefits not only to my own health, but I also see first-hand the benefits it definitely brings to local communities —whether that be school children, families, or more mature folk.”
Matt’s whole career has seen him doing his bit to care for the planet – through various roles in countryside management and environmental sustainability. He’s an ideal fit for the ‘Care Advocate’ role.
Working as Ranger for a local authority, he spends most of his time working within a park owned by a community based charity. He’s heavily involved at national level with the Countryside Management Association and a member of the Country Parks Network Steering Group, and a long standing judge for the Green Flag Award Scheme. His experience includes managing wildlife habitats, visitor facilities, dealing with problem trees and maintaining safe access to trails, as well as managing larger projects through contractors and volunteers. Other skills include writing management plans and grant applications, as well the more mundane administrative duties essential for efficient running of green space. He works closely with community groups, schools, local residents and very many visitors.
Passionate about environmental matters and the push for improved sustainability – he’s been a long standing director of a local Environmental Charity, now taking an interest in the work of Human-Nature.
Matt knows green space is good for everyone, and feels it we should cherish it, through improved conservation, and as a human race look wider to protect the planet, being mindful of our own behaviours. The health and wellbeing benefits of natural environments are becoming increasingly well recognised – and this is why he wants to play his part in supporting Human-Nature. As one of the project’s earliest supporters, he sees its potential and the enthusiasm behind it — and wants to add weight and strength to the environmental side of its objectives.
“I’ve always been curious and messy, which are of course key ingredients to creating interesting things!”
Katrina is an artist, designer and facilitator working with plant & mineral based colour and with vintage & pre-loved textiles. Currently studying an MA in Textiles at the Royal College of Art, London, she retain roots back to her home town of Stoke-on-Trent, with studio space at The Spode Works.
Her practice is centred around tacit knowledge, connection and care, with work that seeks to embody a more considerate way of moving through the world through reframing conversations around materials and ‘waste.’
Katrina leads thescapeartists collaboration within Human-Nature as ‘Create Advocate’ and it is hoped that she joins the project as our first resident artist as we acquire our own premises and creative workshop space, whilst she continues to develop and grow her own practice.
She works with natural dyes for a range of textile applications, but enjoys sharing experiences with the other artists with diverse backgrounds, as each has their own areas of specialism and materials, and that too makes for an exciting mix of skills, interests and influences.
Founder & Director (& temp Exercise Advocate)
“Following a stress breakdown, my new Dalmatian puppy ‘Lola’ led me to green spaces, where I sensed nature was healing me. Founding Human-Nature was my ‘escape’ from a career that no longer supported my wellbeing. I soon found like-minded people who shared my love for nature and creativity as a way to stay fit, well and resilient.”
Jake founded Human-Nature Escapes CIC over 5 years ago after recognising the wellbeing benefits of regular connection to nature and the value that local natural and cultural landscapes were bringing to his wellbeing recovery. He recognised how riding his bike along the canals and taking nature photos was a welcome distraction, allowing time and space to focus on his own wellbeing and express himself creatively.
Leading the project has allowed him to express his own creativity and entrepreneurial skills, giving him a new sense of purpose and direction — recognising that ‘Nature’s Ways to Wellbeing’ not only helps him, but now helps many others.
Jake brings extensive career experience of management systems, problem solving, and process improvement — now developing systematic tools for ‘Human & Nature’s Wellbeing’ improvement. He’s had lots of experience in project managing complex engineering and capital build projects and premises management. These skills will help the team as they prepare to develop and manage the capital investment of creating an operating base and home for the Human-Nature project.
Jake leads the project as a full-time employee, delivering all outdoor wellbeing activities and developing the strategic direction of the project — both for local physical wellbeing experiences and also UK-wide digital beneficiary reach through the website, social media platforms and digital wellbeing developments. He is trained/qualified as a Nordic Walking Instructor, Mountain Bike Leader, Narrowboat Helmsman and trained in Outdoor First Aid and Mental Health First Aid. His expertise as a creative includes mindful photography as an enthusiast and practitioner, heritage and nature poetry, and garden design.
He’s secured a number of prestigious funded programme places and is a double School of Social Enterprise Fellow (Social Entrepreneur and Environmental Entrepreneur) and currently a student on the ‘Create Place’ Cultural Leadership Programme with Staffordshire University and other consortium partners. He’s also written successful funding bids for high value funding awards from The National Lottery Community Fund & UK Government Coronavirus Community Support Fund.
Not forgetting puppy dog ‘Lola’ (in the photo), now a mature adult dog, who continues in the role of the project’s wellbeing mascot – she’s always easily spotted!