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Growing social prescribing for health

A diverse 2 acre environment.
A diverse 2 acre environment, ideal for green prescribing referrals. (images courtesy of Cynon Valley Organic Adventures Ltd.)

A Cardiff University-led partnership is exploring the benefits of green ‘social prescribing’ on health, wellbeing and quality of life.

Green ‘social prescribing’ works by enabling healthcare professionals to refer people to nature-based activities – such as gardening or outdoor activities – bringing mental and physical benefits.

A team led by Professor Les Baillie, School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences is joining forces with Cynon Valley Organic Adventures (CVOA) - a social enterprise based in Rhondda Cynon Taf – to develop social prescribing based around a nature trail in a beautiful five-acre woodland, providing opportunities for GP referrals and community members to engage in nature-based activities to enhance their personal wellbeing.

The 12-month Accelerate-funded project involves Interlink Rhondda Cynon Taf, Cwm Taf Morgannwg University Health Board, South Cynon Primary Care Cluster and Swansea University’s School of Medicine.

CVOA currently offers wellbeing activities, accredited learning that breaks down barriers to learning, and work and summer school for children aged five to 12.

Founder Janis Werrett said:

We are delighted to be working alongside Cardiff University on this upcoming project. The project will not only give local people opportunities to improve well-being but will also help us to develop an amazing community space that will act as a source of learning and accessible green space for years to come

Social prescribing involves non-clinical, community-based interventions for a variety of health conditions, as well as improving health behaviours and well-being, such as physical activity programmes, healthy eating advice, gardening, arts and volunteering.

Professor Baillie said:

Green prescribing is very topical, but there is a need for more robust scientific evidence to help society gain a better understanding of the benefits it can bring to people’s lives. Cardiff University will determine how connecting with nature promotes health and well-being. We will support the community by providing expertise from groups such as the Pharmabees project to help create vital pollinator friendly spaces, which we will link with educational resources.

Accelerate is supporting the project by connecting it with academic experts across three Cardiff University Schools, and providing engagement and project management expertise from the Clinical Innovation Accelerator.

The collaboration will enable an assessment of the impact of green prescribing on personal and societal wellbeing, and help to develop a nature trail, serving the local community to promote improved wellbeing and long-term health outcomes.

Opportunities for the University include further collaboration, case studies and peer reviewed publications.

Read the published case study

Cynon Valley

A case study to build, evaluate and promote engagement with a resource for green social prescribing.