First impressions count. A positive welcome is especially important when designing activities for positive health and wellbeing. People with a variety of needs should feel welcomed, safe and supported.

Whenever someone new joins the group it helps to have a dedicated member of staff or a volunteer who will meet them.

First encounters should:

  • Be received with a smile and positive energy
  • Include a tour of the site, including welfare facilities and spaces for reflective thought
  • Include introductions to volunteers and other participants
  • Include an offer of a drink (cup of tea, coffee, water etc)

Once the participant is comfortable a member of the team should initiate an informal chat to understand a bit more about them. This process shows the supportive nature of the group and may also provide insight which shapes planning sessions.

Suggested questions to ask during informal chat include:

  • How are you feeling today?
  • What do you want to achieve through this activity?
  • Have you done any activities like this before?
  • What other hobbies do you have/have you had in the past?
  • What’s your experience in nature?
  • What does your support network look like? Do you have any friends or family who you see/speak to?

Food and drink stations create spaces for informal networking and encourage participants to get to know each other before the activities start. If you are struggling with organic bonding, you could consider a simple icebreaker exercise or fun group activity before getting started with your activity.