Community nature projects awarded grants to improve health and wellbeing

Wild swimming and mindfulness among schemes chosen for funding

From wild swimming to themed walks and mindfulness, seven projects connecting people to nature for their health and wellbeing are to receive £85,000 from a new fund.

The projects will link people with nature-based activities to help communities recover from the pandemic and overcome health inequalities.

The grants are being awarded because Surrey is one of seven "test and learn" sites in England chosen by the Government to try out ways of improving health and wellbeing through connecting people with nature and green spaces.

The Surrey Heartlands partnership of local health and care organisations, including the county council, secured £500,000 from a £5.8million national pot for a two-year project exploring nature on prescription – linking people with outdoor activities such as community gardening or local guided walks and activities in nature to benefit their wellbeing.

Introducing the Nature Connection Fund

Now the project has set up the Surrey Heartlands Nature Connection Fund to distribute grants to community groups. The grants aim to support communities in need, such as people with dementia and their carers, those with mental health needs and people with learning disabilities.

Groups receiving funding include Run Surrey Hills, which is offering a tutored wild swimming course in the River Wey to introduce people with mental health needs to the benefits of open water swimming. Please stay safe when in and around the water - find advice on the National Fire Chiefs Be Water Aware webpages.

Other recipients include Mindful Ninja, which will run mindfulness courses in local green spaces for teenagers in and around Stanwell, meeting a range of mental health needs.

Anyone can enjoy the health and wellbeing benefits of nature. Visit the Healthy Surrey Green Social Prescribing webpages for information on how it can help your wellbeing and for ideas of where to go and local activities.

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