Applications are now open to deliver four ‘green social prescribing’ pilots a bid to help the communities hardest hit by COVID-19.
Activities such as walking, cycling, green gyms, and tree planting will be offered as part of a £4.27m scheme that is aimed at helping the mental health and wellbeing of communities impacted the most by COVID-19. The scheme will examine how to scale-up green prescribing in England to improve health outcomes, reduce health inequalities, and reduce demand on the health and social care system.
The fund is now officially open for funding applications from potential delivery partners, and Expressions of Interest to become a ‘test and learn’ site for this project are welcome from partnerships of local health, care, and environment leads.
Four sites will be chosen from a range of locations across England which have been the hardest hit by coronavirus, focusing on areas with the greatest need and potential for impact, including to support recovery from coronavirus.
Green living for better health
Evidence from Natural England shows that the NHS could save over £2bn in treatment costs if everyone in England had equal access to good quality green space.
As well as walking, cycling, and, green gyms, and practical habitat management conservation tasks such as tree planting, green prescribing could also include supported visits to local green space, activities such as gardening, and other outdoor activities to reduce isolation and loneliness.
Applications will need to:
- Be led by an Integrated Care System working with partner organisations, including organisations from the environment sector
- Provide a clear explanation of how the project will help to address health inequalities and support coronavirus affected populations
- Provide evidence of a whole system and partnership approach to project implementation
- Demonstrate relevant experience and ability to deliver
The pilots will help establish what is required to scale up green social prescribing and the steps needed to increase patient referrals to environment and nature-based activities.
Chief Executive of Natural England, Marian Spain, said: “The evidence from Natural England’s People and Nature survey shows beyond doubt that nature is good for our health. We have seen that demonstrated on a daily basis during the pandemic, with a resurgence in the use of urban parks, beaches and nature reserves and many people talking about the positive impact on their mental health and wellbeing. There is a compelling case, now more than ever, to provide more access to the outdoors for everybody as part of our health care system as the nation builds back greener from the pandemic.
“But we have also seen the stark reality of the inequalities in access to nature. So, I’m absolutely delighted that Natural England will be supporting these projects to help more people – especially those we know are least able to connect with nature – to benefit through social prescribing to improve their mental health and wellbeing.”
More information on the project and how to apply can be found here.