FAMILIES in Worcestershire are being invited to take part in an annual challenge and connect with nature for the month of June.

The task, called 30 Days Wild and organised by Worcester Wildlife Trust as part of a nationwide event, is to consciously engage with nature and can be as simple as walking barefoot on the lawn at home or sitting in the garden listening to the birds, to going on a woodland walk or following the Severn Way.

People are asked to observe how they feel as a result of engaging with nature and contribute to research being conducted by the University of Derby into the benefits of being in contact with the natural world.

Families can sign up to the 30 Days Wild event by visiting www.wildlifetrusts.org/30DaysWild. They will receive a free pack with lots of ideas about how they can engage with the natural world and how to contribute to the survey. They can also download a phone app by visiting www.wildlifetrusts.org/30DaysWild/App.

The project has been run annually since 2015 and around 2,000 people in Worcestershire signed up for it last year. Results from the past two years showed participants had a number of experiences while in nature including feeling uplifted and peaceful.

Rae Howard-Louvaine, the trust’s senior engagement officer, said: “Whether you’ve never taken the time to experience nature before or you’re a seasoned naturalist, 30 Days Wild is a great excuse to put aside a little time each and every day in June to reconnect to our surroundings.

“It could be something as simple as drinking your favourite tipple in the garden while listening to birdsong or finding somewhere outside to read your favourite wild book. Whatever you choose to do each day, research is showing that it’s good for your well-being.

“Since the challenge began in 2015, participants have been invited to answer a series of questions. This has previously shown that taking part in 30 Days Wild improves our health, happiness and connection to nature. Last year’s research also showed that engaging with the beauty of nature is part of that story.

“This is great for us as it helps to restore us and balance our emotions but it’s also great for nature because it encourages people to do more for wildlife and take action for our natural world.”

The latest set of results from the study of 30 Days Wild also confirms that the benefits of the challenge last well after June has ended. There are indications that the beneficial impact of taking part could last an entire year.

Anyone who signs up will receive a free pack of goodies that provide plenty of ideas on how to get involved. All participants who choose to do so can also receive a regular e-newsletter from Worcestershire Wildlife Trust to help them complete the challenge.

Rae added: “Whether you splash through puddles or make a wild meal, 30 Days Wild is a great way to get closer to the world around you.

“The free pack comes with a booklet of inspirational ideas, a wildflower-seeded paper to sow, a wall chart and wild stickers. There are special packs to help with ideas for schools and businesses as well as a mobile phone app to download.

“This year’s theme is all about helping wildlife in your neighbourhood so why not join in and challenge your friends, families and neighbours to get involved too? From litter picks to bird boxes and hedgehog holes in fences, what better way to get to know your neighbours and your local patch!”

30 Days Wild starts on Thursday June 1. The challenge is simple and designed to delight, with participants undertaking a random act of wildness each day throughout the month.

Participants are invited to share their wild fun with the trust and other participants on the trust’s Twitter and Facebook channels.

To mark the middle of the month-long challenge, the trust is running a Big Wild Weekend event on Saturday June 16 when there will be plenty of opportunities for people to get up close with wildlife at the headquarters - Lower Smite Farm, Hindlip, Worcester.

For more information about the Big Wild Weekend www.worcswildlifetrust.co.uk/whats-on

According to a report by the Institute for European Environmental Policy regular exposure to nature has a positive effect on mood, concentration, self-discipline and physiological stress.

Evidence shows that people living in a greener environment experienced fewer health problems and scored their health more positively compared to people living in less green areas. There is also some evidence that being in natural environments lowers blood pressure, pulse and reduces cortisol levels.

Also nature areas can contribute to children’s development – particularly to their concentration, motor skills, self-esteem and emotion regulation.

The institute’s research also showed exercising and being physically active in green areas provides not only physical health benefits but also positive effects on mental health.

While volunteering and local participation in nature can increase social support and reduce social isolation. The natural environment can provide opportunities for learning and enhance people’s personal development and self-esteem, promoting social interactions and connections.

• According to the Wildlife Trusts UK, being disconnected from nature is characteristic of an unhealthy lifestyle. In an increasingly urban society, there is recognition that humans are becoming more remote from the natural environment, and as a consequence, are suffering from increased mental illnesses and obesity problems.

• On average, children in Britain are watching more than 17 hours of television a week, while another 20 hours a week are spent online, taking a significant amount of time away from outside play. Research shows that exposure to wildlife during childhood can have a significant impact upon an individual’s attitude towards the environment. Yet opportunities for children to participate, play and engage in wild, green spaces are diminishing. Less than 10 per cent of children today ever play in natural areas, compared to 40 per cent of today’s adults who did.

• Urban wildlife and access to green spaces can provide a range of positive values to humans, including opportunities for physical exercise, help coping with mental illnesses, historical values and can also change attitudes toward the environment. Research highlights that urban neighbourhoods containing better access to green spaces, on average, have lower levels of mental distress and higher well-being.