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Nature Connection with Hackney Outdoors

Hackney Outdoors CIC  is a community interest company helping urban dwellers of all ages connect with nature, for fun, wellness and resilience. Run by Forest School Leader, trainee Medical Herbalist and London mum Nina Lovelace (pictured), we run after-school clubs, holiday clubs, corporate nature wellness activities, nature & history walks, nature craft and herbalism sessions, parties and events, and more. We also renature sites to make the more suitable for nature connection sessions. Details of our services are listed below. Our session leaders are DBS checked, insured and first-aid trained. Our corporate volunteering sessions and adult workshops help fund our renaturing work. 

Hackney Outdoors CIC Director Nina Lovelace
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Forest School and Outdoor Learning

Hackney Outdoors runs usually subsidised Urban Forest School and outdoor learning programmes for children, either in schools or through after school clubs. Examples include our Nature Club after school club run for William Patten Primary School in Hackney, and our free sessions run for schools for Hackney Borough Council as part of their Hello Again Hackney campaign.


Forest School is a specific approach to outdoor education which encourages learners of all ages to develop socially, emotionally, spiritually, physically and intellectually through regular play, exploration and supported risk-taking in a natural environment such as a forest. Sessions are led by Forest School leaders who facilitate experiences, but take the lead from the learner in terms of how and what they want to learn and/or experience. In the urban environment such as London, we often don't have access to huge forests and woods - but cities such as London are still full of wild spaces where learning and exploration can still take place, and Hackney Outdoors CIC specialises in improving sites to make them more suitable for Urban Forest School. Research suggests Forest School benefits the learner by improving:

  • Confidence: increasing time and space to be independent 

  • Social skills: engaging in team experiences or sharing tools that build teamwork skills and awareness of others 

  • Communication: learning new vocabulary and through sensory experiences 

  • Motivation: natural, wild spaces often fascinate learners helping them develop concentration

  • Physical skills: development of physical stamina and motor skills

  • Knowledge and understanding: developing an interest in the natural surroundings and respect for the environment

Corporate CSR and Nature Wellness

Hackney Outdoors can support your employees or guests to relax and learn new nature-based skills in local green spaces, supporting both your corporate wellness and/or corporate social responsibility environmental goals.  Examples include our volunteering opportunity matching service, where we can match your employees to London based nature based 'guided' volunteering work, where they'll not not only help out, but also learn new nature-based skills thanks to our specialist volunteer session leaders. For example, you might like to be guided on how to create wildlife habitats while creating them for a local school, learn how to create a successful pond while supporting a local green space, or discover how to make herbal teas after helping plant a community herb garden. We love a good litter pick, but nature-based volunteering can offer so much more. 

According to the Mental Health Foundation (2021), “People who are more connected with nature are usually happier in life and more likely to report feeling their lives are worthwhile. Nature can generate many positive emotions, such as calmness, joy, and creativity and can facilitate concentration. In the workplace, for example, people with ‘high exposure’ to nature (taking more frequent breaks to spend time outdoors in green spaces) reported significantly higher work engagement compared to the participants in the same study who described themselves as having a low ‘exposure to nature’ profile (those who spent more time in the office or who took indoor breaks).”


Hackney Outdoors helps adults more easily notice, think about and appreciate the nature on their doorstep, whether that's an urban green park, local canal, or roof garden. We can achieve wellness aims through many different types of activities and experiences, depending on the teams or people involved and their natural motivations. Corporate sessions help us fund our subsidised sessions with Hackney schools. 

Nature & History Walks

Hackney Outdoors runs regular hosted nature and history walks for families and adults, to help families and friends connect to nature and each other, with partner Never Tired of London. Examples include our seasonal History and Nature Walks in Abney Park Cemetery, London and 2021 Stoke Newington Family Fungal Foray with the London Fungus Network.

Holiday Activity Camps

Hackney Outdoors runs regular holiday camps for children in April, over the summer, and October. Example activities include woodwork and camp cooking. Examples include our Climbing and Wilderness summer camp sessions at the Castle Climbing Centre in Green Lanes, N4.

Nature Craft & Herbalism Sessions

Hackney Outdoors runs regular nature crafts sessions for adults, helping them to learn more about flora, fauna and fungi while learning new skills. Examples include our natural dye and paints session run in Abney Park Cemetery. We also run herbalism sessions, supporting people to learn about and use medicinal herbs in products and recipes for their own health and wellness. Examples include recent herbal honey (electuary) making sessions for Informa plc staff.

Parties & Events

Hackney Outdoors can host a range of nature and wellness based parties or events. Examples might be a child's bushcraft party, a herbal remedy making gathering for a group of friends, or a seasonal special such as the Halloween Wilderness event Hackney Outdoors ran in 2022 at the Castle Climbing Centre, or a recent den building kids party in Epping Forest.

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