We've launched a smart phone app to help boost the health and wellbeing of people in Nottingham and Nottinghamshire by encouraging them to explore the great green spaces in their community and beyond.
The GreenSpace NG app was developed by NCVS in collaboration with Doug Colton, a volunteer app developer, as part of Nottingham’s green social prescribing project, GreenSpace.
You can download the app for free on your smartphone now, search for GreenSpace NG App on the Google Play store or the Apple App store.
GreenSpace was a successful test and learn pilot project, delivered by ourselves with partner support, which explored how green social prescribing could link local people with nature-based activities in their community, to improve their mental wellbeing, reduce health inequalities and reduce feelings of social isolation and loneliness. Although the project has now come to an end, we are continuing to work with partners across Nottingham’s Integrated Care System to embed green social prescribing within local NHS systems.
How the app works
The app was the brainchild of our Active Travel Social Prescribing Community Development Coordinators Laura Armitage and Kate Lisle, the team behind GreenSpace.
Kate said, “The app is designed to get people across Nottinghamshire out and about, experiencing the benefits of being outdoors while exploring the fabulous green spaces we have on offer around the county.
“Time spent in green spaces is proven to have a positive effect on our mental and physical wellbeing - even just a few minutes spent in nature can help to boost your mood, reduce feelings of stress and anxiety, and promote relaxation.”
The app allows users to keep a record of where they have been, using the built-in map and checklist. The locations are grouped by theme, such as heritage locations, woodlands, and gardens. People can build their own challenges, such as visiting every site in a particular theme, working their way through locations alphabetically, or even using the app as a starting point to find new locations to visit when designing their own walking and cycling routes.
How the app came to be
As part of the GreenSpace project, the pair worked with artist Helen Illus to design The Nottingham Greenground Map. Inspired by the iconic London Tube Map, the map identified all the different green spaces around Nottingham, with locations joined by themed lines, such as the pink heritage line that linked historic locations like Wollaton Hall, Newstead Abbey and Green's Windmill, or the khaki garden line, that showed the location of all the different community gardens.
Laura said, “Following the initial release of the Greenground Map, we received feedback that people really liked the list of locations on each line on the back of the map, and the fact that they could tick them off as they visited them.
“Knowing that there were apps like the Ethel Ready app, which allows you to tick off the 'Ethels' (a list of 95 peaks in the Peak District) as you've climbed them, we wondered if it would be possible to create a similar app, based on the locations on the Greenground Map, to inspire more people to get out and about in Nottinghamshire's green spaces.”
Turning the idea into a reality
Laura contacted Doug Colton, creator of the Ethel Ready App, to find out if it was a possibility and he jumped at the chance to help.
Laura continued, “The beauty of the app is that we were able to expand the content to include locations across the whole of Nottinghamshire, which we were unable to include in the original map, due to scale.
“Doug put a huge amount of time and work into developing the app, purely on a voluntary basis. We are so lucky to have had his knowledge and skills on this project. We’re also grateful to the additional volunteers who helped with the painstaking process of recording longitude and latitude coordinates for each location, as well as researching the facts and finding/taking photos of the app’s different locations.”
App Developer Doug Colton said, “Having grown up in Nottinghamshire and enjoying lots of outdoor activities myself, I was keen to help. I live in the Peak District and during the pandemic, I taught myself to build smart phone apps. My Ethel Ready app offered people the challenge of climbing 95 prominent hills in the Peak District. It became incredibly popular, and I realised that I could use it as a model for the free GreenSpace NG app that I've built for NCVS.
“It’s been a pleasure to work with Laura and Kate, to provide the communities in Nottinghamshire with a simple, handy, free tool to find and benefit from visiting the multitude of green spaces around Nottingham and the rest of the county. With the pressures of modern life, I'm convinced that finding time to go outdoors, get some exercise and enjoy nature is a great way to look after your mind and your body.”
A video has been created which explains how to use the app, you can view it by visiting the GreenSpace YouTube channel.