Our TurnAround project in Essex supports the most vulnerable young people in society. We give them a second chance and help them to feel confident making their own decisions and their own life choices. We take them out into nature and help them heal.
Youth wellbeing is at its lowest level for at least eight years (Prince’s Trust Survey 2017). Young people feel that their life will amount to nothing and that they do not have the control to change it.
We know that in the UK, 34% of young people aged between 16-24 are feeling medium to high levels of anxiety throughout the day.
With our TurnAround programme we work with young people who are suffer domestic violence, whose parents are abusing drugs and alcohol and who might have experienced physical or sexual abuse among other life limiting issues – young people who are facing many challenges everyday.
We are supporting these young people to end that cycle of destruction.
Through outdoor adventures and intensive mentoring, TurnAround empowers young people to build a brighter future.
We want to increase self-esteem; support better mental wellbeing and help prevent young people from ending up in the criminal justice system.
The issues that these young people face every day, are not easy fixes. We use the power of nature and intensive specialist one to one support to help promote:
Our groups are small so that we can provide and the young people can build nurturing support networks with each other.
The TurnAround Circle of Courage
The TurnAround project is based upon the philosophy of ‘The Circle of Courage’. Our philosophy is embedded into each part of the programme so young people and reflects four key values of equal dignity, authenticity, integrity and personal responsibility.
New skills like communication, resilience building and activities
Building relationships with family, peers and the environment
What our young people do when they leave our project
How young people support each other and act for others
TurnAround begins with a week long journey in Scotland. Trained guides and professional wilderness facilitators lead the young people out of their urban environment and into the wild. Participants start to:
- Learn problem-solving, teamwork, and persistence through camping, cooking, and living together
- Calm their bodies and minds through immersion in a peaceful and beautiful natural setting
- Work on emotional and interpersonal issues with intensive adult support
- Detox (if necessary) from drug or alcohol abuse
- Build aspiration and hope for the future
The wilderness journey is only the beginning. For the rest of the year after their return, participants:
- Join monthly daylong workshops with volunteer mentors, specialist providers and Wilderness Foundation staff to focus on a range of behaviour change outcomes
- Meet at least once a week with a volunteer mentor, who is also available by phone or email between weekly sessions
- Get involved in community volunteering and work experience placements
- Meet fortnightly with a focus on social skills
We are incredibly proud of what our young people achieve. Over the last 10 years, the University of Essex has evaluated our project from the very beginning and followed up with each participant for three years afterwards.
The independent evaluations show that TurnAround has positive effects on participants’ self-esteem, mood, hope, self-efficacy and connection to nature. These findings add to the growing body of research documenting “the wilderness effect”: that young people who have authentic experiences in the outdoors develop better self-esteem.
of our young people reported increased mental wellbeing
reported an increase in hope after they finished the project
of our graduates enter further education or employment
“It’s (TurnAround) made me the person that I am now… like I set myself bigger goals now than what I would have done, because I know that I’m more than capable, and this has helped me realise that I’m more than capable of pushing myself outside that comfort zone.”
Monitoring & Evaluation
Refer a young person
For further information on our TurnAround programme, please email us or call 0300 123 3073. We are currently able to accommodate six groups of up to 15 students each per year.
To refer a young person to the TurnAround programme, please fill out our referral form and return it by email to firstname.lastname@example.org Alternatively send the completed hard copy form to our postal address:
Wilderness Foundation UK
2 Whitbreads Business Centre
Whitbreads Farm Lane
100% of referral agencies responded that thy would refer again (2016)