A NATURE-inspired community company in the Borders is branching out after winning a public vote for funding.

Nature Unlimited has already helped dozens of young girls from the Galashiels area with its pioneering Wild About Wellbeing project.

But, after landing £33,688 from the the People’s Project lottery fund, the woodland sessions will be expanded to Peebles and Hawick.

Jan Barr, project coordinator at Nature Unlimited, told us: “We are delighted that we’ll be able to give much needed support to many more young people in the Borders.

"We hope that this funding will also lead to wider recognition of the impact of our work so that it can be sustainably funded in the future.”

Nature Unlimited was founded in 2015 to run support sessions for children and young people in local woodlands.

Within 12 months it had grown from an original team of three to a core of seven workers with a diverse range of skills and qualifications based in Kelso, the central Borders, Liddesdale and Tweeddale.

They also recruited a small army of 21 volunteers to help with the pioneering work of the group across almost all of the entire Scottish Borders.

That growth has continued over the past 18 months with hundreds of youngsters learning to manage risk and to build their resilience and self-confidence, while getting outdoors, connecting with nature and being active.

Nature Unlimited's offshoot Wild About Wellbeing project began last year.

It is a unique early intervention for young people suffering from, or at risk of developing, mental health issues.

Jan added: "The aim of the programme is to increase young people’s wellbeing, through supporting them to build confidence, resilience and to be better able to manage relationships.

"Once a week groups of young people will come to the woods - a safe place to be themselves, to form new friendship bonds and strengthen existing ones.

"They will be supported to develop their emotional intelligence and to communicate openly, while participating in nature connection activities ranging from pond dipping, tree climbing, bushcraft skills and cooking on the fire to chilling out in hammocks and everything else in between.

"They learn to tie knots and put up shelters, as well as foraging for wild food.

"They work as a team and choose what they want to do each week – the element of choice gives them control in a world where they are often disempowered."

The outcomes of the Wild About Wellbeing pilot project in Galashiels last year were increased confidence, resilience and independence for all of the participants - as well as improved attendance at school.

Nature Unlimited fought off stiff completion to become a regional finalist in the ITV, Big Lottery Fund and National Lottery-organised People's Project.

And they won the public vote after their work was screened towards the end of last month.

The expanding Wild About Wellbeing programme will start taking referrals from Peebles High, Galashiels Academy and Hawick High from the start of the next academic year.