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Hannah Mitchell December 29, 2020

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

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

Nottingham and Nottinghamshire Integrated Care System (ICS) has been announced as one of just seven ICS’s 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.

Working with system partners and Nottingham City Integrated Care Partnership,  the ICS will be delivering the project from April 2021 to encourage people to connect more with nature for the benefit of their mental health.

Known as the ‘green social prescribing’ project, the scheme has been established by the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs, NHS England and NHS Improvement, and partner organisations. The aim is 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 Nottingham and Nottinghamshire region hundreds of local nature-based organisations, 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 region has to offer in both urban and suburban areas. Particular focus within the first year will be on communities in Nottingham City, with the pilot growing into the County in the second year. Andy Haynes, Executive Lead of the ICS, says: “The Covid-19 pandemic has had a real impact of people’s lives and has had a significant impact on many peoples’ mental health and wellbeing. This project acknowledges the close links between our own health and the environment around us and the benefits that getting outside and connecting with nature can have.

“The funding and resources for our area are really important, and we can make a real difference for those who need it most. Our aim is 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.”

Hugh Porter, Interim lead & Clinical Director Nottingham City Integrated Care Partnership, says: “This additional investment that will help improve the lives of people across our region, enabling access to the wonderful green spaces in Nottingham and Nottinghamshire.  I am certain that this project will make a huge difference to the community’s wellbeing.”

To find out more visit https://www.england.nhs.uk/personalisedcare/social-prescribing/green-social-prescribing