May’s the month in Scotland when we can finally shed that extra layer, get ourselves outside, enjoy the green leaves unfurling and hopefully feel more energised. It’s no coincidence that it’s also the month with a focus on health and wellbeing, there’s Green Health Week (13 - 19 May), Mental Health Awareness week (15 - 21 May) and UK Walking Month.

We know that our parks and greenspaces can bring great physical and mental health benefits so it was a no brainer for us to focus on a project that gets people out, about and active in their greenspaces in Edinburgh.

The Thrive Physical Activity & Greenspaces Collective partners (ELGT, Edinburgh Leisure, SAMH & Cyrenians) have come together to support people experiencing poor mental health with funding from Edinburgh Health and Social Care Partnership. The aim is to prevent or delay the need for more intensive support by enabling people to develop their own meaningful activities using greenspaces. By providing these opportunities the collective help people to stay well.

The ELGT Thrive program is a referral project - health practitioners are able to refer individuals who are experiencing social isolation, poor mental and/or physical health to participate in activities in greenspaces and improve their health and wellbeing. ELGT offer a range of engaging activities for people over 18, including health walks, jogging groups, Nordic walking, Boxercise, woodland activities, conservation and community gardening. They use greenspaces across Edinburgh for the activities making them accessible to people of different ages and diverse backgrounds to meet and helpful for building more local resilient communities. Parks and greenspaces are the perfect place to deliver nature-based solutions that help people feel better.

‘Being able to do something in the greenspace is so wonderful. I've wished for something like this for years - spending time with nice people outdoors in a green space where beautiful things grow is so, so good. I love it.’

The focus is to encourage people to live healthier more active lives enabling participants to build confidence and self-esteem through learning new skills. Social isolation and loneliness is still an issue with profound impacts on people’s mental health and wellbeing.
Local greenspaces can be a catalyst for social connection, helping to reduce social isolation and leading to greater personal and community resilience and wellbeing. The green health activities allow people to come together at their own pace in an open environment, make connections and to link up with local community groups so they can continue their participation in a sustainable way.

‘This project has helped me feel less isolated. The group of people are lovely and very supportive. I feel less alone.’

Project Outcomes

  • Increase awareness of physical activity recommendations
  • Increase levels of participation in outdoor activities
  • Increase numbers of local people achieving recommended levels of physical activity
  • Improve health & wellbeing, confidence and self-esteem and social contact
  • Improve the local environment

You can find out more about the weekly activities on the Thrive Edinburgh ELGT webpage and you can also make a direct referral using the form on the webpage.

If you are not an Edinburgh resident there are plenty of other opportunities to get out into greenspaces to improve your health and wellbeing. Keep an eye out on social media for #GreenHealthWeek during 13 - 19 May promoting green health projects, and the places, spaces and access networks that provide a huge health-improvement resource as well as co-benefits towards tackling the climate and nature crises.