Wild Workforce Concept to be Implemented at 16th Century Lauriston Castle

Wild Workforce founder Clare Stephen

A Fife business which harnesses the benefits of activity in forests and woods to combat workplace stress is expanding to Edinburgh following agreement with the city council.

Innovative forest-based workshops, developed by business, Wild Workforce, have been highly successful since the launch in Falkland, Fife last year, becoming the first programme of its kind to be officially accredited in Scotland.

Now, following a stakeholder engagement consultation, Wild Workforce has been granted permission to roll out the programme at the 16th Century Lauriston Castle, following an agreement with the council’s Neighbourhood Environmental Services.

Inspired by successful pilots in Scandinavia, forest schools have been shown to benefit the physical and mental wellbeing of children whilst developing resilience and nature connectedness.

Wild Workforce’s programmes re-apply elements of that philosophy to adults in the workplace, with games, reflection and mindful activities in woodland environments helping to address stress and to build resilience amongst work teams.

Since launching as a start-up in Spring 2023, Wild Workforce’s outdoor sessions, based in Falkland, have been popular with legal businesses, with sessions also run with Fife College.

The 2021 report, Valuing the Mental Health Benefits of Woodlands, estimated that time spent in woods and forests saved the UK £185m in mental health treatment costs.

Scottish Forestry runs an outdoor therapeutic programme, Branching Out, which consists of three hours of woodland activities per week, illustrating the scientifically proven benefits of time spent amongst trees and in nature.

Wild Workforce Founder, Clare Stephen, said: “I’m extremely grateful to the stakeholders at Lauriston Castle for supporting Wild Workforce to deliver workshops in Edinburgh. The grounds of the castle, like at Falkland Estate, are a perfect setting to relax, have fun, connect with others and learn evidence-based tools which have been proven to support both mental and physical health.” 

Being able to run workshops in the grounds of Lauriston Castle, overlooking the Firth of Forth, marks a further milestone for Wild Workforce, which already enjoys a similar partnership with operators at Falkland Estate.

The workshops, which include Resilience at Work CPD, Team Building and Wellbeing for All, start at Lauriston Castle in March and will run throughout 2024, with bookings now being taken through the Wild Workforce website.

Sessions in Fife are available throughout the year, in the stunning forests on Falkland Estate.

“People learn more by doing and experiencing and so the workshops use nature, games, mindful practice and compassion as the evidence-base for learning tools to manage stress at work,” said founder Clare Stephen, who has combined career knowledge in Professional Development and Human Resources with outdoor learning qualifications, to create Wild Workforce’s programmes.

“The recent CIPD’s Health and Wellbeing at Work Report again highlights that stress and mental health require more focus and that employers should deliver a systematic programme of activity to meet the Mental Health at Work Commitment. 

“Education and early intervention is key and I’m keen to work with employers to support stress management training and tailor the workshops to meet business learning and development and wellbeing needs.”

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