Work package 2
Cultures and values of nature and health and wellbeing: reflecting a diverse society

Aims and approach

Work package 2 explored how urban residents from diverse backgrounds (especially differentiated by age, gender, ethnicity and mental health service use) narrate their own histories and values of contact and connectedness with nature and health and wellbeing. It also helped to develop significant understanding of cultural and social contexts for engagement with nature in urban settings, potentially challenging user/non-user binaries.

The dynamics and sensory qualities of ecosystem processes (seasonality, cycles of growth, typologies of habitat) were examined in relation to daily life experiences and mental wellbeing. Work package 2 sought to develop theory on:

  • The importance of memory, childhood experiences, and cultural heritage (art, media, stories) in shaping notions and values of nature.

  • The role of experiential and phenomenological qualities of nature contact in supporting good mental health.

  • How individual access to natural environments is shaped by socio-cultural, political and historic processes.

Work package 2 used the analysis of urban natural environments and socio-economic settings from work package to shape a sampling strategy for interviews. Researchers from work package 2 worked closely with researchers in work package 3 in sharing and analysing data from the noticing nature function of the smartphone app.

Work package 2 also provided work package 4 with a framework of potential barriers and facilitators to natural environment engagement.

We did this by

  • carrying out interviews with a cross section of Sheffield residents

  • coordinating arts based extended workshops with mental health service users facilitated in collaboration with Recovery Enterprises.


  • Four outputs from the co-produced projects, these may be visual (exhibition), digital (film), written (co-writing project).

  • Short practice orientated summaries co-written with mental health service users that disseminate more immediately the findings and implications of their work, initially through the new Sheffield Recovery Hub, and serve as pilot ‘impacts’ for reflection and adaption as part of WP4.


Dr Jo Birch

Dr Sarah Payne

Professor Brendan Stone

Dr Clare Rishbeth