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.
The NHS Long Term Plan commits to significantly expanding the number of social prescribing link workers in primary care, and we are on track to exceed our commitment to 1,000 additional link workers by April 2021. Social prescribing and community-based support enable GPs, other health and care practitioners and local agencies to refer people to a link worker who gives people time and focuses on what matters to the individual. For some people this will be green social prescribing, which links them to nature-based interventions and activities, such as local walking for health schemes, community gardening and food-growing projects.
Test and learn sites
In July 2020, Environment Secretary George Eustice announced a £4 million investment for a cross-government project aimed at preventing and tackling mental ill health through green social prescribing.
The project will test how to embed green social prescribing into communities in order to:
- improve mental health outcomes
- reduce health inequalities
- reduce demand on the health and social care system
- develop best practice in making green social activities more resilient and accessible.
This two-year project will be run by multiple partners, including: Department of Health and Social Care, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Natural England, NHS England and NHS Improvement, Public Health England, Ministry of Housing, National Academy for Social Prescribing, communities and local government.
Call for expressions of interest
As part of the project, we invite integrated care systems (ICSs) and sustainability and transformation partnerships (STPs) leads to submit an expression of interest (EOI) to become a test and learn site for the project.
EOIs should be made in partnership with ICS/STP leads, natural environment sector leads and other key stakeholders, such as local authorities, voluntary and community sector organisations and public health.
Information about the project, including the expression of interest guidance document and application form can be found on Gov.uk.
Further details can also be found in the letter we sent to ICS/STP leads, asking them to submit an expression of interest.
Expressions of interest should be submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org by 23 October 2020.
Enquiries about the EOI process should be directed to email@example.com.