Setpoint London East at the Soanes Centre

Forest School 2

The Portal Trust is proud to support the forest school & bush craft project run by Setpoint London East at the Soanes Centre.


The Portal Trust was pleased to award Setpoint £20,950 over three years to kick-start the project, allowing Setpoint to grow an informal pilot into a core offering. In its first year, the grant included funds for equipment including hammocks, a slackline, tools and outdoor cooking equipment.

The Soanes Centre is based in Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park, a sprawling 33-acre urban woodland site, in the middle of suburban London. The cemetery was ‘given back' to nature in 2000 and is managed by the Friends of Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park. The majority of the cemetery is woodland, there are five wildlife ponds. And around the cemetery is grassland, much of it flower-rich meadow.

A perfect setting for a forest school!

Forest Schools can trace their roots reach back to Scandinavia, to the open-air culture, friluftsliv, or free-air life. The concept arrived in the UK in 1993 and has grown from strength to strength since then. Forest schools work by helping learners develop socially, emotionally, spiritually, physically and intellectually. Creating, a safe, non-judgemental nurturing environment for young people to try stuff out and take risks.

'"Over the past couple of years, we have been delivering forest school to young people that do not usually have access to these kinds of activities. We are targeting children, both primary and secondary, who struggle in mainstream provisions. Children with learning difference, social and emotional difficulties, and young people at risk of exclusion. The Portal Trust grant means we can continue to provide and improve on our forest school provision."

Set point’s Forest Schools Education Manager, Dimuthu Meehitiya

Setpoint’s forest school hopes it can inspire a deep and meaningful connection to the world and an understanding of how young learners fit within it.

The centres managed approach to risk means that learners can constantly expand on their abilities by solving real-world issues and building self-belief and resilience. Setpoint believes that risk is more than just the potential for physical harm, but an exploration of a young person's expectations. As Dim explains:

“There are risks in everything we do, and we grow by overcoming them”. Forest School, therefore, “helps participants become, healthy, resilient, creative and independent learners”.

Using the fabulous resources in Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park (their ‘outdoor classroom’) Setpoint wants to engender a sense of adventure for young people, young people will create dens and camps, light fires and learn to whittle!

The Portal Trust is looking forward to seeing the project develop and can’t wait to see those dens!