The Wilderness Programme (TWP) was originally a separate trading style facilitated by Wilderness Escapes Limited - a family business incorporated in 2015 by Greg & Julia Wilson (born from a passion of canoe based wild camping trips), which primarily focussed on delivering 'high-end' trips, holidays and adventures to wild and remote locations in the UK, operating within the leisure and tourism sector.

Throughout these initial years and whilst running a relatively small, yet successful number of leisure style trips, participants consistently highlighted the positive benefits of their experience on their mental health state and reported an overall optimistic impact on their general well-being. Increasingly, The management team recognised that far more benefit could be gained from the experience and began looking into research generated from scientifically proven ‘wilderness therapy’ studies from around the world where the natural environment is used in mental health recovery.

In addition and since 2005, Greg has supported and collaborated with Steve Mitchell MBPsS on coaching, personal development & leadership programmes which by default, utilise the natural environment of the Lake District National Park in Cumbria. As an accredited recovery coach Steve has also used the natural environment as a basis for working with individuals in recovery for over 20 years and so the concept of combining Wilderness Escapes experience with Recovery Coaching Psychology was born. This ultimately led to the abandonment of leisure and tourism-based activities and the core focus moved onto the development of The Wilderness Programme.

In 2017, Greg & Steve were introduced to Graham Freeman a certified counsellor, sober coach and drug and alcohol intervention specialist, who for over 20 years has worked with individuals in crisis and addictions, and who shares a passion for recovery through the natural environment. Together they began working to develop TWP within the mental health/ wellbeing and recovery sector.

Prior to the pandemic, steady progress had been made with the development of the organisation as a business, but the effects of lockdown and the associated restrictions imposed on the operational capability prevented commercial delivery and plans were all but placed on hold. Nevertheless, enquiries for TWP continued to flow in from the website and as the delivery of TWP resumed (post-pandemic) it became abundantly clear that the cost of the programme was prohibitive for the majority of people who needed it.

After a long period of reflection and recognising the significant increase for the need of long term mental health recovery services in the UK, Greg, Steve and Graham (The Founders) reviewed the overall approach and took the decision to change the basis of the organisation for the greater public benefit.

The trustees and the founders believe that mental health recovery services should be accessible for all and are committed to providing a fully funded charitable service that will help as many people as possible.

The Wilderness Programme became a registered Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO) in September 2023.

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