Applications open today for several pilot projects to scale-up green social prescribing services.
The scheme aims to improve mental health outcomes, reduce health inequalities and alleviate demand on the health and social care system by reducing isolation and loneliness. Social prescribing supports practical and emotional health and wellbeing through community groups and agencies, while green prescribing provides an additional outdoor or green component with a focus on activities such as walking, cycling, habitat management and gardening.
Four pilot sites will be chosen from across England, with priority given to those areas with the greatest need and potential for impact. The pilot projects are expected to begin in early 2021 and will last two years. They will be jointly managed by Defra, Department of Health and Social Care, Natural England, NHS England and NHS Improvement, Public Health England and Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government to ensure cost-effectiveness and the development of a robust evidence base for the scheme.
Aimee Stimpson, National Lead for Healthy Places, Public Health England said:
“Public Health England is delighted to be involved in this cross-government project, one of the first to be confirmed as part of the Shared Outcomes Fund. The COVID-19 pandemic has made many more of us aware of how much we value and rely on outdoor spaces to support our health and wellbeing. There is a huge opportunity for green social prescribing to help people maintain a healthy weight, boost mental health and reduce health inequalities.”
Jo Churchill, Health Minister, adds:
“We know we need to think innovatively when tackling health inequalities to ensure everyone can really make the most of life… The new green social prescribing pilots will help people improve their overall wellbeing through activities like walking and gardening, while having a far-reaching positive impact on their mental and physical health, reducing loneliness and enhancing employability.”
For additional information, please see the Government’s press release.