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Guest Blog - Inspiring Change in Snowdonia National Park

The beauty and splendour of Snowdonia National Park is supporting recovery from alcohol, drug and gambling addiction and other damaging behavioural conditions.

Guests from rehab clinic Parkland Place, in nearby Old Colwyn, regularly use the open spaces, stunning scenery and cultural heritage of the area as a key tool in their treatment.

The centre – operated by rehab and recovery charity CAIS – harnesses the wonderful natural resources on its doorstep to support a comprehensive therapeutic programme, and offers its guests a chance to get to know this stunning part of the country.  Parkland Place has attracted new visitors to the region from across the UK, mainland Europe and the Middle East.

Lead addictions therapist Jos Williams is an experienced hill walker and runner, and one of several staff who accompany guests as they explore the cultural and natural attractions of the National Park.  

“Most of our rehabilitative work at Parkland Place takes place in group and one-to-one sessions, but having this beautiful park so close by really complements what we do,” she said.

“It gives our guests important time and space to reflect, and enables them to use some of the new tools and techniques they have learned during their time staying with us.”

Jos Williams & Jac (© Parkland Place)

Jos Williams & Jac (© Parkland Place)

External focus

“When they are out in the hills, our guests are forced to focus their attention externally rather than internally – which can be a really helpful way of helping with worry and overthinking,” Jos said.

“It sounds simple, but as a result they become more aware of their environment and the landscape they are in – whether that’s being inspired by the spectacular scenery, watching the change in the light on a hillside, feeling a chilly wind on their cheeks, or simply having to concentrate on putting one foot in front of another on the path ahead.  Something so simple, and which so many of us take for granted, can be really valuable.”

Recovering guests are sometimes hesitant to embrace the opportunity to get into the outdoors – but soon overcome their fears.

“We believe it’s important to challenge entrenched beliefs and to help our guests to have new and rewarding experiences,” Jos said. “For some, going for even a short walk in National Park is an achievement in itself.

“Often, members of our groups are pleased to have done something they may otherwise not have chosen to do.  They are pleased and surprised that they have challenged themselves, and have enjoyed their day – snapping pictures for their families and loved ones.”

(© Visit Wales)

(© Visit Wales)

Welsh folklore

“Many of our guests also enjoy learning the names of the mountains and a bit of Welsh folklore – which broadens their horizons and gives them new perspective,” Jos added.

“Like any form of exercise, walking regularly helps to build stamina, burn calories and make the heart healthier – but it also has the benefit of being easily accessible. It’s just one of the tools which we use to really help our guests find alternative ways to manage their mood.”

(© Visit Wales)

(© Visit Wales)

Aftercare

The team at Parkland Place hope that this exposure to different ways of thinking, and to the beauty of the natural world, will continue after their guests depart.

“Each of our guests leaves us with a comprehensive aftercare plan – a plan which might include hobbies, pastimes and physical activity like walking and enjoying nature,” Jos said.

“We hope we they will take a little bit of the inspiration they have had in Snowdonia away with them too, and can use that to help with their ongoing recovery of journey.”

Etta Trumper, SNPA’s Volunteering and Wellbeing Officer said “The Snowdonia National Park Authority are keen to encourage health and well-being. Areas of Snowdonia are perfect for reflecting on life and provide countless opportunities to evaluate and resolve issues one may have in their lives.  It’s great to see projects like this thriving in the National Park.”