Lockdown proved a lonely and unsettling time for new parents but three mums found a way to combat feelings of isolation and boost mental well-being.

Rachel Devereux, Charlotte Skayee and Elizabeth Backhouse set up Parent Sanctuary, a community interest company which encouraged parents to get out into the fresh air and walk – and talk.

During lockdown the mums experienced the difficulty of parenting young children without the usual activities on offer.

Rachel, of Scissett, Charlotte, from Fixby, and Elizabeth, who lives in Wyke, decided to offer a lifeline in the form of their Parent Sanctuary Nature Walks and have now been awarded funding from Kirklees Council.

Parenting during lockdown wasn’t easy for anybody. But for those who gave birth shortly before or during lockdown, Covid-19 restrictions meant bringing your new baby home was quite a different experience.

There were no grandparents to coo over them, nobody to call in and see how you’re getting on, nobody to make you a cup of tea or hold the baby while you get a shower.

The first few weeks with a new baby can be challenging for all sorts of reasons and can take a toll on both parents’ mental health.

Nature walks help new parents find their feet.

Parent Sanctuary was set up to combat the mental health effects of the pandemic. It was aimed at new parents who needed a safe space to talk, to get out in the fresh air and take part in some gentle exercise – all of which are recommended to combat depression and anxiety.

Nature walks take place across Kirklees, Calderdale, and Bradford. The walks are in different locations and each week there is a different play prompt.

For parents of new-borns, this is simply a new topic to talk to your baby about, increasing their vocabulary and allowing baby to listen to the sound of your voice.

For toddlers and older children, it might be activities that you can try at home. The walks also include a meditation which encourages both parents and children to take a moment of calm and reconnect with nature.

Parent Sanctuary Nature Walks have been increasing in popularity since they began in August 2020 and the founders plan to continue the walks, despite restrictions easing.

Kirklees Council have recognised the value of these types of activities and awarded them a £2,260 grant from their “Do Something Now” Community Investment Fund to continue running the walks through 2021 and beyond.

A Parent Sanctuary walk at Castle Hill

Founder Rachel Devereux, who had twins just before lockdown, said: “We’re delighted to receive funding from Kirklees Council.

“We’re passionate about helping other parents and that doesn’t stop because the pandemic is coming to an end.

“Our walks are an important space for parents to learn from other parents’ experiences, spend time in nature, and relax a little.”

As restrictions ease, Parent Sanctuary are adding to their well-being provision. They now offer nature-based wellbeing and resilience sessions in schools, as well as parent coaching workshops.

For more information or to find out where and when the next walk will be search ‘Parent Sanctuary’ on Facebook or Instagram.