Gordon offers wellbeing services through a sustainable and highly effective use of greenspace, using his horticultural experiences and his nature-based wellbeing practice.
He believes that greenspace is an integral component of wellbeing, alongside traditional approaches and interventions.
Gordon explains: “Our indifference and rather dismissive attitude towards the wellbeing benefits that come from spending time engaged in greenspace has ultimately undermined our human-based approaches to the spiralling wellbeing challenges that are so pervasive in our society today.
“There is growing empirical evidence that backs this up. Encouraging more use of greenspace as a valid and proven means of looking after your health, and indeed even helping to enhance it, can dramatically improve the efficacy of more traditional means.”
The story so far
In 2010 Gordon decided that as a life-long advocate of the myriad of benefits that can be derived from the natural world, he would use his personal experience to share those benefits with others, helping them foster a personal relationship with their own local greenspace and helping to bring back a missing link in the wellbeing model.
He set-up GS Outdoor Services offering tailor-made activities and sessions based around gardening work and frequent forays into the woods and forests of Strathearn, initially focusing on supporting the wellbeing needs of vulnerable adults and their families.
Through a combination of hands-on practical work experience and academic study spanning some 36 years, Gordon has helped to put greenspace on the map and further up the local and regional action planning agendas. He has worked on research both privately and in conjunction with an array of organisations who are leaders in the fields of wellbeing, nature-based interventions and outdoor education.
The Care and Wellbeing Community Interest Company
One such organisation which has been pivotal to the development of his enterprise is the Care and Wellbeing Community Interest Company (CWCIC), which Gordon has been an active member of for some six years now.
Through ongoing support from CWCIC, as well as GrowBiz and industry-based leaders Trellis and the Institute of Outdoor Learning, Gordon has been able to take his business to a much wider audience.
This, alongside a great deal of tenacity, which Gordon feels is far more important than talent, has enabled him to develop the necessary ‘business’ mindset to complement his obvious passion for what he does.
Gordon says: “One thing my own journey has taught me is that you always learn something useful from every single experience, you never leave empty-handed from anywhere or anyone.
“I see life as a humongous classroom where every day you get to learn more of what really counts in life – yourself and your relationships with others in whatever form these may take.”
It has been this philosophy that has been key in helping Gordon to move forward with what he offers others.
GS Outdoor Services now helps facilitate the enhancement of wellbeing and social cohesion within communities in the Strathearn area and Gordon is keen to emphasise that his services are designed to complement rather than compete with the traditional health care services.
It is this complementary approach, which is also reciprocal, that Gordon believes is the most effective way to maximise valuable resources whilst minimising expense.
How it works
One example of how this has worked is through a project Gordon carried out with the CWCIC supported by funding from Perth and Kinross Council’s Community Investment Fund.
Gordon was able to individually tailor a series of activities, based on a person-centred approach and working with family members, for a client who was diagnosed with middle to late-onset dementia.
Through the activities, Gordon was able to help bring back elements from her past into her future – a key element of support in such circumstances. The client’s love for horses and dogs and her enjoyment of gardening and nostalgia were at the forefront of the time spent with her, alongside nurturing her altruistic side.
This relationship is still going strong today – one year on.
Gordon says: “Through this particular project, I have further developed my own practice.
“Now, for me, it is not just about looking to keep people simply where they are and where I meet them by simply preventing any further damage.
“It is also about seeking ways and means through my practice to assist them to restore some of their capabilities, which, in turn, would help them live more independent and better quality lives.
“That has surely got to be the overall aim of any journey you take with someone who is struggling in whatever capacity.
“And like the CWCIC, this too is GS Outdoor Services’ unique selling point.”