Partnership secures £500,000 investment to connect more people with nature to improve their mental health in wake of Coronavirus pandemic

The Humber, Coast and Vale Health and Care Partnership is one of just seven health and care partnerships in the country to secure £500,000 as part of a two-year national scheme aimed at helping the mental wellbeing of communities hardest hit by coronavirus.

The ‘green social prescribing’ project has been established by the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs, NHS England and NHS Improvement, and partner organisations to examine how health and care services, working with communities and local organisations, can connect more people with nature and nature-based activities to improve their mental health and wellbeing.

The Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of being outdoors to people’s mental and physical health, as well as the inequality of access to green space. Social prescribing can provide much-needed support by connecting people to community groups and local initiatives for practical and emotional support and to improve their health and wellbeing.

Green social prescribing is about connecting people with nature and their local environments. This could include a wide range of activities, such as walking or cycling groups, gardening or community allotments, conservation tasks, such as tree planting, and creative activities.

Connecting with nature has a huge range of physical and mental health benefits. Evidence, including from Natural England, shows that the NHS could save more than £2billion in treatment costs if everyone in England had equal access to good quality green space.

Across the Humber, Coast and Vale region hundreds of local nature-based initiatives, community activities and eco-therapy projects are already working to improve lives and provide support by connecting people with nature and local green 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.

Securing the investment and a place on the national programme will enable partners to expand the offer to our communities and help more people to improve their mental health and wellbeing by getting out and exploring the amazing green spaces that the Humber, Coast and Vale region has to offer.

Andy Barber, Chief Executive, Smile Foundation and Social Prescribing Lead for the Humber, Coast and Vale VCSE Steering Group, said: “The Covid-19 pandemic has turned many lives upside down and has had a significant impact on many peoples’ mental health and wellbeing. It has also highlighted the close links between our own health and the environment around us and the benefits that getting outside and connecting with nature can have.

“I am delighted that we have been able to secure this extra funding and resources for our area. This will enable our local projects to support more people and ensure the NHS and other health and care services are better connected and aware of the fantastic work that voluntary and community sector organisations are already doing across our region.”

Professor Stephen Eames, Independent Chair and System Lead for the Humber, Coast and Vale Health and Care Partnership, said: “The voluntary, community and social enterprise sector is a vitally important part of our Partnership: they play a critical role in connecting with and supporting our communities. I am delighted that their leadership and collaboration has helped to secure this additional investment that will help improve the lives of people across our region.  I am really excited to see the difference this project will make.”

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