Feeling lost, being alone outdoors and feeling unwelcome in nature are some of many conversations that have come up in our discussions with young people on safety in nature. In this photo story, Max Lawson responds to the issue of feeling safe in nature. 

I think [feeling space in green spaces is] definitely an issue that a lot of people resonate with. Perhaps, you don’t necessarily think about it every day, but when you’re at the park alone and you are looking over your shoulder when you hear noise behind you, you can tell that there is an issue there.

I know this from experience, not necessarily in the daytime but where I live, there is a convenient path through a green space which can save you 5 minutes to the nearest tube station but at night, the whole park is dark. People gather there at night and it can make you feel unsafe, so I try to avoid it at nights now.

With “Feeling Safe”, there’s two aspects – feeling safe OR feeling unsafe. So, I tried to encapsulate this in my photos.

For feeling safe

I was trying to show how nature and green spaces can make you feel welcome, not judged and protected. For example, I was showing how my balcony garden, although small, makes me feel calm and sheltered. It’s my safe space where I can go and look after what I have helped create and nurture. With the flower in my hand, I was trying to show life growing from my body - and with the leaves, I feel like they can convey a pillow due to their soft features.

 

For feeling unsafe

I found this more difficult to encapsulate. For the holly leaf and dying peace lily petals, I was trying to show decay in my hands as well as the thorniness of the holly. With this, I was trying to show that nature isn’t all bright colourful flowers and there are some scary and dangerous associated moments. With the picture of my face through the jagged plant, I was going for a ‘Snow White’ moment, where all the thorns and trees are closing in making you feel trapped.

 

This piece was created by young people during our online delivery of the Wild Action Programme with the London Wildlife Trust. The Wild Action Programme is one strand of the Keeping It Wild Project.

This project is funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund and this particular activity strand was supported by the George Bairstow Charitable Trust and Investec 

Banner image taken by Alan during this Wild Action Programme