The new Green Social Prescribing Programme for Nottingham and Nottinghamshire has launched. The two-year programme, called GreenSpace, looks to improve the mental health and wellbeing of communities hardest hit by the Covid-19 pandemic, by connecting local people with nature-based activities and green community projects and initiatives in the city and county.
Nottingham was selected as one of seven government Green Social Prescribing Test and Learn sites and awarded £500,000, through the Nottingham and Nottinghamshire Integrated Care System (ICS), to run this two-year pilot nature-based programme.
Nottingham Community and Voluntary Service (NCVS)is leading the GreenSpace programme on a day-to-day basis, working closely with Framework and the Canal & River Trust.
Jules Sebelin, NCVS Chief Executive Officer, said: “We are really honoured to be leading the Green social prescribing pilot for the Nottingham and Nottinghamshire ICS. We have always known that the voluntary and community sector plays a pivotal role in supporting our communities and this programme will shine a light on that effort. The sector will play an important role in supporting the mental wellbeing of our residents, providing a vast array of opportunities for local people to get involved with nature.”
Mental Health Awareness Week
The launch coincided with Mental Health Awareness Week, hosted by Mental Health Foundation, which ran from Monday 10 May until Sunday 16 May (2021). This year, the theme was nature and how connecting with the natural world can support good mental health.
The pandemic has highlighted the importance of being outdoors, with millions of us turning to nature as a coping strategy, particularly during lockdown.
Evidence shows that being connected to nature and, through doing this, connecting with other people helps us experience lower levels of stress, fatigue and anxiety, among other benefits. Green social prescribing is a growing movement which carries this principle forward.
What do we mean by the term green social prescribing?
Green social prescribing is where GPs and other primary care professionals refer people to local, non-clinical nature-based activities to improve their physical and mental health. Typically, this is done through a link worker who will connect people with local charities, services and community groups for practical and emotional support.
Green prescriptions could include anything from joining a Covid-secure wellness walk along the Nottingham and Beeston Canal, to growing vegetables in a community garden or just taking a moment to listen to the birds and enjoy some quiet time in one of Nottingham’s parks.
Nature-based organisations, community activities and eco-therapy projects are already working in the city and county to improve lives and provide support by connecting people with nature, and green and blue spaces. These projects help to support those who are least able to connect with nature, because of where they live, their income or other barriers they may face.
How GreenSpace will grow and develop
Over the next two years, GreenSpace will support, strengthen and grow this work, weaving a web that connects people, places and projects into a sustainable green network that will offer something for everyone, no matter their ability or where they live in Nottingham and Nottinghamshire. The focus of the programme will initially be within Nottingham City. However, it will aim to grow into Nottinghamshire in the second year.
GreenSpace will focus on a whole system, all age approach, however, it will also include targeted initiatives to support some of the most deprived communities that have been disproportionally affected by the coronavirus crisis, namely:
- People living with long term conditions, especially older people;
- Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) communities;
- Families living in disadvantaged communities and in particular, those without access to gardens, balconies or green space.
Phil Mulligan, Regional Director for the Canal & River Trust, said: “We’re really excited to be part of this pilot as we believe Nottinghamshire’s waterways have a really important role to play in helping people to improve their physical and mental health.
“Research tells us that spending time by water can help us to feel happier and healthier and so Nottinghamshire’s waterways, which are on the doorstep for so many people, are the perfect places for green social prescribing activities – whether that be an afternoon of paddle boarding or some canalside gardening.”
Phil Eden, Framework’s Service Manager for Nature in Mind, said: "We are really pleased to be part of the green social prescribing programme, delivering our service Nature in Mind, which supports individuals with mental health issues, and promotes wellbeing and recovery through engagement with nature. It’s great news that green prescriptions and connecting with nature will be promoted to become part of people’s everyday lives in the city and wider across Nottinghamshire. It’s an exciting opportunity for us to work in collaboration with partners across Nottingham to promote and enhance the city’s nature-based offerings.”
Become a GreenSpace provider
Nottingham's intention is to make green prescriptions (using exercise in the fresh air to improve people's health and wellbeing) and nature connectedness (taking the time to notice and enjoy nature) a part of everyday life. However, some people will need help to know what nature-based opportunities there are near to them and might need additional support and encouragement to use them.
If you are a green provider, social prescriber, community connector, primary care professional or voluntary organisation and would like to be part of helping deliver the GreenSpace programme then please email email@example.com with a brief summary of your interest and NCVS will be in touch.
Visit the Want to Help Deliver GreenSpace page for more information.
Find out about local green groups and nature-based activities
If you are looking for ideas to improve your own health and wellbeing, click through to our Want to Try Nature-Based Activities page.