Storying Sheffield

Improving Wellbeing through Urban Nature

This research project, Improving Wellbeing Through Urban Nature (IWUN), is led by Dr Anna Jorgensen and crosses disciplines, using a variety of methods to understand the nature and mental wellbeing relationship. One of the study’s four teams is using story-based interviews and arts workshops with Sheffield residents from diverse backgrounds (especially differentiated by age, gender, culture and ethnicity, residential location and self-reported health) to explore this relationship.

Interviews have enabled participants to narrate, in their own ways, their connections with nature through the life course and their experiences of nature affecting their personal wellbeing. Additionally our arts workshops with people who have mental health difficulties are helping us understand more about the ways in which nature can be helpful in times of mental health difficulty, illness or recovery, not just in times of being mentally ‘well’.

Improving Wellbeing through Urban Nature (IWUN) is a three year research project awarded £1.3m by the Natural Environment Research Council’s Valuing Nature Programme. It aims to find out more about how Sheffield’s natural environment can improve the health and wellbeing of the city’s residents, and especially those with disproportionately high levels of poor health.

The project, led by Dr Anna Jorgensen at the University of Sheffield’s Department of Landscape, brings academics from the universities of Sheffield, Derby, and Heriot-Watt together with the Wildlife Trusts, Recovery Enterprises and the Centre for Sustainable Healthcare. We will use a range of methods, including a specially designed smartphone app, to investigate people’s relationships with Sheffield’s parks and green spaces.

Text by Jo Birch; images by Chrissy Bonham.