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Introducing Green Social Prescribing

Green social prescribing is a way of connecting people to nature-based activities and green groups, projects and schemes in their local community for support with health and wellbeing. Often this will be through a referral from a Link Worker based at a GP practice or another primary care professional.

Our scheme in Nottingham and Nottinghamshire, called GreenSpace, is all about improving people’s mental health. Green providers, social prescribers, voluntary organisations and community initiatives will help connect many more people with nature-based activities, helping everyone to feel better.

The Covid-19 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 more 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, providing much-needed support to people who are struggling with their mental health, by connecting them with community groups and local green initiatives for practical and emotional support.

Programme overview

National Programme partner logos for Green Social Prescribing Test and Learn sites

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.

Over the next two years (from April 2021), the Green Social Prescribing Programme will build on Nottingham City's green commitments, weaving a web that connects people, places and projects into a green network that will offer something for everyone, no matter their ability or where they live in the city and county. The focus of the programme will initially be within Nottingham City. However, the programme will aim to grow into Nottinghamshire in the second year.

The programme is being delivered nationally by the Department of Health and Social Care, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Natural England, NHS England and NHS Improvement, Public Health England, Sport England, Ministry of Housing Communities and Local Government and the National Academy for Social Prescribing.

Locally, Nottingham Community and Voluntary Service is leading the programme on a day-to-day basis, working closely with Framework and the Canal & River Trust East Midlands.

The programme will focus on a whole system, all age approach. 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.

How to get involved

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 Green Social Prescribing Programme, click through to our Want to Help Deliver GreenSpace page.

If you are looking for ideas to improve your own health and wellbeing, click through to our Want to Try Nature-Based Activities page.

You can also read our monthly GreenSpace Bulletin.