Posted: Wed, 23 Feb 2022 14:20


Twenty community projects offering nature and outdoor-based activities to support positive mental and physical wellbeing are benefiting from almost £150,000 of funding to continue their work and develop new projects.

The Humber, Coast and Vale Green Social Prescribing Programme was launched in 2021 to support the mental health and wellbeing of residents across Hull, East Yorkshire, North and North East Lincolnshire, York and North Yorkshire, particularly those hardest hit by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Now, £150,000 from the programme, funded through the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs, NHS England, NHS Improvement and other partner organisations, is helping to ensure creative, physical, gardening and nature-based projects can reach more people and help promote positive mental health.

Green Social Prescribing engages people in outdoor activities to improve their wellbeing through a variety of ways, from local walking groups and community gardening projects to outdoor gyms and tree planting initiatives, and aims to reduce pressure on the NHS.

Hundreds of people across the region will now benefit from the grants and the 20 shortlisted community groups will expand and set up new projects over the next year.

More than 50 groups applied for the funding and a grant panel shortlisted the final 20, which each received between £900 and £10,000.

Selby-based Vale of York Athletic Community offers inclusive, affordable, creative and engaging fitness activities for people of all ages such as community runs and strength training, and the group received £3,390 of funding from the programme.

Dr Ian Martin, Head of Coaching and Development at Vale of York Athletic Community, said: "We're overjoyed to receive this funding and it will make a massive difference to the community. We'll be able to put on 20 weeks of activities in a safe, secure manner, which will have a huge positive impact on people's mental and physical wellbeing."

York charity St Nicks, which received £9,768, is a 24-acre nature reserve which is open to the community around the clock and offers conservation work, volunteering opportunities, environmental education, recycling schemes and sustainable workshops.

The funding will support the charity's Ecotherapy team to deliver activities such as allotment work, creative writing and bird watching groups to improve participants' mental and physical wellbeing. Three courses – willow weaving, bushcraft and 'get gardening' – will be available to the public from April to September thanks to the funding.

Rachel Hall, Ecotherapy Assistant at St Nicks, said: "We're thrilled to receive the funding because it means we can offer willow weaving and bushcraft following a successful pilot scheme last summer, and continue to run 'get gardening', which has been in place for six years.

"People made new friends during the pilot and it had a great impact on their wellbeing. We're looking forward to building on that and reaching out to more people around York and further afield."

Anthony Hurd, Green Social Prescribing Programme Manager at HEY Smile Foundation, which is delivering the programme on behalf of Humber, Coast and Vale Health and Care Partnership, said he is looking forward to seeing the funded projects come to fruition over the coming months.

He said: "There is strong evidence that getting outside and into nature has positive benefits for our mental and physical wellbeing.

"Covid-19 has had a huge impact on people's mental health. But with this funding we'll see more activities occurring locally for communities to take part in, engaging them with outdoor environments, benefitting their mental and physical wellbeing, helping to reduce pressure on NHS services and playing their part in a more holistic healthcare offer."

Humber, Coast and Vale is one of seven "test and learn" sites across the UK which is trialling the Green Social Prescribing programme within its communities and establishing how it can be embedded into healthcare systems for the future.

Evidence is also being gathered from individuals benefiting from the community projects, which will potentially show how their mental health has improved as a result of Green Social Prescribing and measure the programme's success.

For more information about Green Social Prescribing and the programme rollout across Humber, Coast and Vale, visit:

Tags: Active York, outdoor, social prescribing