‘You Don’t Know What You’ll Miss Til It’s Gone’

Over the last 12 months we have been locked down and locked away. We have been locked down from family, friends, colleagues and casual day to day interactions. It has been well documented and discussed how this has affected people and without a doubt loneliness and isolation has contributed to so much challenge for many across the country.

However, I did notice something last year when lockdown was eased and people were able to move more freely and I’m sure you did too (it was all over the news). People flocked in droves to beaches, parks, forests and woodland. People flocked to Nature. One thing I know I missed was the mountains, others beaches and some the woods and parks. I’ve never seen Brown's Bay and Port Muck so packed. For me honestly it brought warmth knowing that people were searching for that reconnection, not just to friends and family, but also to the natural world.

This is something that I believe has been missed by so many for so long. We live in buildings, walk on concrete and very rarely get the chance to interact with nature. When we do it brings a sense of calm and peace - if we allow ourselves to relax in it.

As I write this little blog I reflect on a time when I worked in a project in Denmark with some young people deemed a bit too challenging for mainstream school. We took the young lads on a trip to the lakes in Sweden - calm, peaceful and surrounded by nature. There was a young lad who had a lot of energy… (ALOT of energy). By lunch time of day 2 I noticed him lying by the shore, head resting on his hand, staring at the clouds, whistling one of his favourite dance anthems a few beats slower than normal. No one directed him, no one showed him, he came from inner city Copenhagen and he found his own way to enjoy the space.

Now I recognise that we can’t all enjoy the Swedish lakes or even get regular access to the perfect outside spaces. These similar experiences can be had sitting on the beach playing with the sand or taking in the sights sounds and smells of a local wooded area. It could simply be spending time in your back garden or a local park and paying attention to whatever life may be passing by. If you stay long enough and pay attention something will.

As a parent of 4 very lively boys I certainly noticed that the days I get my kids out of the house and in touch with the natural world go an awful lot smoother than the ones I don’t.

A Start360 blog by Martin Barr from our VOICES North service.

VOICES North provides therapeutic services for children, young people and families affected by parental substance misuse. For more information click: #ChangeStartsHere.