Players of People's Postcode Lottery have helped a million people get closer to nature through a visit to the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust (WWT).
Studies show spending time outdoors and getting close to wildlife can improve physical and mental health, as well as being great fun – especially for children. Yet more people are finding it more difficult to get close to nature in a place they can feel safe and relaxed.
Players have contributed £450,000 this year to help WWT connect people and nature at its 10 wetland centres across the UK.
With players support, the Trust is making their outdoor learning programme more accessible to those with special education needs - both those with learning difficulties and talented groups who suit tailored learning sessions.
At Llanellli Wetland Centre, a new, natural play area that promotes informal learning is being installed. This will enable children to learn about and better connect with wetland nature through exploratory play in a safe environment.
In Gloucestershire, a new sustainable garden will use natural landscaping to store rainfall and release it slowly. This helps reduce local flooding and also provides a great place for plants and animals when the weather is dry. It will also include ideas for gardeners to use at home.
WWT's Head of Engagement and Learning Ann Nicol said, "Going to a local patch of greenery for a walk can be daunting, so players of People's Postcode Lottery help us to provide the infrastructure people need. Sometimes the key thing is as simple as having a map to know there are seats, toilets or kiosks nearby, and that there are people around to help if you need them.
"It's about making nature easy and accessible to everyone. It's about bringing people and wildlife together because getting fresh air and being among plants and animals is good for you.
"We have a lot of visitors who have told us that a place to unwind or just be themselves, surrounded by water and nature, helps them with their mental or physical challenges. It's humbling to know that WWT can have such a profoundly positive effect on people's lives.
"We put a great emphasis on facilities for children, like play areas, fun activities and learning plans for school visits. Studies show that playing and learning outside helps children to keep fit and to relate to the real world around them in an increasingly digital age."
"Players of People's Postcode Lottery help people to help themselves through nature."