Green Social Prescribing

Humber and North Yorkshire Health and Care Partnership has recently completed its work as a ‘test and learn’ site for green social prescribing (GSP), one of only seven sites across England.

Green Social Prescribing helps connect people with the outdoors and nature, bringing with it a huge range of mental and physical health benefits through activities like walking, gardening, improving areas for wildlife and creative activities.

Led by HEY Smile Foundation, and supported by both a Steering Group and Humber and North Yorkshire Health and Care Partnership’s Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise (VCSE) Collaborative, the programme, delivered over 2 years, set out to understand the landscape, grow our own, and follow people on their GSP journey. Click on the titles below to learn more about how we achieved this:

Understanding the landscape

The work to ‘understand the landscape’ has so far identified 620 activities that take place in the outdoors and nature in Humber and North Yorkshire. The programme engaged with 150 of these organisations which helped the team to understand the powerful impact the VCSE has on the health and wellbeing of communities, alongside the enablers and challenges around becoming referral points for providers of health and social care.  

The team also connected with 18 providers of social prescribing services, alongside all four providers of mental health services in the region, to explore opportunities for increased connection to GSP activity.  

Healthcare services have been connected with local providers of GSP activity, 48 social prescribing staff have been trained in GSP and nature connectedness, while a partnership with Natural England and the North York Moors National Park has seen three ‘immersive’ nature days run for 34 healthcare staff and volunteers.     

Grow our own – supporting VCSE organisations to run GSP activities for their communities

he team invested a total of £354,589 during 2022 to support VCSE organisations in running GSP activity for their communities. This was made possible by the programme itself and through additional funds secured from NHS Charities Together.  

Between March 2022 and March 2023 over 1,300 people had engaged with 20 of the 36 projects funded. Not only did participants report positive impacts on their mental health and wellbeing, they also reported an:  

  • increased connection to nature 
  • increased social interaction 
  • improved confidence 
  • the development of new skills and knowledge, alongside improvements in their physical health.
Follow people on their Green Social Prescribing journey

Working with 13 different service providers (social prescribing, mental health and occupational therapy) 173 people were recruited to be followed on their GSP journey. 

Having sought support for mild to moderate mental ill-health, the work set out to understand the impacts of taking part in outdoor and in-nature activity on wellbeing, anxiety and depression. Two outcome measures were used to monitor the ‘before’ and ‘after’ impact – ONS4, to measure general wellbeing, and the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS).  

The University of York, through the Department of Health Sciences, were commissioned to analyse the data collected and found that: 

  • 67% saw improvements in overall wellbeing (as measured by ONS4) 
  • 70% saw improvements in overall anxiety (as measured by HADS) 
  • 62% saw improvements in overall depression (as measured by HADS) 
  • The impact on wellbeing was statistically significant, with the largest improvements seen in life satisfaction and living a worthwhile life. 
  • Reductions in depression and anxiety were also statistically significant.  
  • The greatest benefit in wellbeing, anxiety and depression were associated with between five and 12 weeks of GSP activity engagement.  

What’s next?

While the ‘test and learn’ programme has come to an end, this is not the end for GSP in Humber and North Yorkshire. HEY Smile Foundation has secured funding through the Community Fund to further support the VCSE sector in Growing Green and Blue Health.

More details will follow as the team transition into this new phase of their work. Humber and North Yorkshire have also fed in to the national GSP Toolkit which can be found on the National Academy of Social Prescribing website here. This valuable tool has been designed to help communities, organisations and health professionals who are looking to set up their own green social prescribing programmes that connect with local health systems.

Connect with the Green Social Prescribing Team:

Image of white man with a beard showing a white woman with glasses how to wood carve - sitting under a canopy in a wooded area. Credit:'Copice Crafts - Raincliffe Wood Community Enterprise CIC
Coppice Crafts - Raincliffe Wood Community Enterprise CIC 
Image of two older woment with hats and gloves sat in an accessible bike. A woman with long blonde hair and a cycling helmet is sat at the back of the bike. They are cycling through a park with leaves on the ground
Cycling Without Age Nature Rides - York Bike Belles 

A group of seven adults moving through a leafy park. One person is walking with two dogs on a lead, once person is using a walking aid and another person is driving a mobility scooter.
Nature Walk - Climb4
Image of leave, flowers, seed pods, sticks and pebbles in circular rows and patterns
Green Art - Mires Beck Nursery