Cornish ‘blue health’ workshops use the ocean to boost wellbeing

A Cornish marine business organisation has launched a programme of ‘blue health’ workshops, including wild swimming and seaweed foraging, to help members of the local community connect to the sea and boost their health and wellbeing.

The scheme, devised by the not-for-profit Cornish Marine Network (CMN), aims to bring people from Falmouth and Penryn together to spend time near the water and discover the breadth of economic, volunteering, and recreational opportunities available in the local marine sector.

‘Blue health’ refers to the therapeutic benefits of spending time in or by blue spaces including the sea, rivers, waterfront parks, harbours and marinas. A 2020 study by Defra highlights how spending time in marine and coastal environments can play a significant role in boosting overall health and well-being. The impacts are greater when time spent outdoors is combined with social interactions.

CMN’s new ‘blue health’ workshops build on these findings to offer a new year-round programme of activities by the sea from coastal dog walks and seaweed foraging to wild swimming, mediation on the beach and kayaking. There are also plans to bring the ‘seaside to the town’ and set up activities in local community centres, allowing families to access mobile rock pools and take part in marine-themed arts and crafts and beach games, where they might otherwise find it difficult to access the coast.

A successful pilot earlier this month saw local participants join creative workshops at Gyllyngvase Beach near Falmouth, where local residents had a go at watercolour painting using seawater and creating sea-glass sculptures. Guest speakers from local charities and businesses – including Plastic Free Falmouth, Falmouth Marine Conservation Group and the RNLI – also joined to provide advice and information about local initiatives to help preserve our marine environment and wildlife.

Lisa, a participant in the pilot scheme, says: “It’s great to be around such good energy and the best views. The sessions remind me to enjoy the moment and get stuck in, letting go a little.”

All the workshops are offered for free to residents of Falmouth and Penryn who are not currently in employment. Email Lea Thomas or call 01326 314904 for more details.

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This article was written and/or edited by the UK-based MIN team.

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