Improving health and wellbeing through connecting with nature
From woods and commons to local parks and allotments, spending time outdoors helps improve your health and wellbeing. To mark Social Prescribing Day on 10 March, we're showcasing a new project aiming to connect Surrey residents with nature to improve their mental and physical health.
What is social prescribing?
Loneliness, stress and anxiety can all become barriers to getting the most out of life. The social prescription service can help you find practical and emotional support in your community - anything from arts activities and group learning to healthy eating advice and exercise groups.
A GP, nurse or social care worker may suggest you access the service through a link worker, or you can ask them to refer you if you think you would benefit from the support. And now some 'prescriptions' connect people with the great outdoors.
Watch the video below which shows what social prescribing is all about.
What are nature prescriptions?
Anyone can enjoy the health and wellbeing benefits of nature but some people may need support to feel confident to try new things.
A social prescribing link worker can give people time to focus on what matters to them and connect them to suitable nature-based activities. This might be exercise in green spaces such as walking or cycling, or time in woodlands or by rivers. Others may enjoy new social connections through community gardens and food growing projects.
Bethany Wood, a social prescribing link worker in Runnymede, said: "Over the last year, outdoor activities have been a real lifeline for our residents as they have been able to continue even when indoor activities have had to close due to COVID. Local walking for health groups have been really popular with my clients - they can get some exercise and have some company, but without any pressure to talk a lot if they aren't ready yet."
More about the project
The Surrey Heartlands partnership of local health and care organisations, including Surrey County Council, has secured funding to become one of seven 'test and learn' sites across England exploring and evaluating ways of providing wellbeing support through nature and green spaces.
The two-year scheme is focused on tackling health inequalities so no one is left behind. The project is working with communities including people with mental health needs, those with dementia and their carers and people with learning disabilities.
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