Green Health Week takes place from 14-22 May and green social prescribing is all about using our parks, greenspaces, NHS estate and the outdoors to improve your health and wellbeing so it’s a perfect fit for May. 

We are increasingly recognising the important role of greenspace and green health activities on our health and wellbeing. greenspace scotland worked with NHS Lothian, Edinburgh & Lothians Health Foundation and a wide range of partners and stakeholders to develop the Greenspace and Health Strategic Framework for Edinburgh & Lothians. The framework sets the priorities for how health and wellbeing can be supported through the NHS Lothian estate, publicly accessible greenspaces and green health activities.

On 21 March, Edinburgh and Lothians Health Foundation and greenspace scotland hosted their first Lothian Green Social Prescribing Forum, bringing together prescribers, enablers and practitioners to network, connect and move green social prescribing forward. Newbattle Abbey College in Dalkeith provided an amazing venue for a wide range of attendees, representing both potential prescribers and providers green of green health activities, to get together at the first Forum.

Green Social Prescribing uses the interaction between people and healthcare services to identify those who could benefit most from green interventions and connect them with nature. Edinburgh and Lothian Health Foundation’s shared vision is for green health prescribing to be embedded across the system, targeted at people who can most benefit, resulting in reduced health inequalities, stronger communities and more valued greenspace. To deliver this vision the Foundation is working across the health and social care partnerships to support them in making this a reality using five Golden Threads. You can read more about this approach in the Green health prescribing: its role in Lothian’s COVID-19 recovery report.

The Forum started with perspectives from NHS Lothian Public Health, Newbattle Abbey College Forest Coordinator, Edinburgh and Lothian Greenspace Trust and the Cyrenians. You can watch the presentations on the Health Foundations Event webpage. In the afternoon, the extensive and beautiful grounds allowed for a variety of experiential workshops outside to get a real flavour of some of the benefits of green social prescribing in action. Lucy Holroyd, Cyrenians reflected:

"There are so many diverse backgrounds and experiences in the room and we need to work out how to harness that, streamline it and find ways to work together. Green prescribing is happening but it is not always labelled as such. We need to network and bring together all the strands."

The Golden Threads were referred to throughout the day and participants were invited to engage, share stories, highlight challenges and celebrate opportunities to gain a better understanding of the roles each play within the system of green social prescribing.

The event provided a valuable opportunity to collect views and input on the challenges, opportunities and requirements to deliver the green health strategy from people in all parts of the system, and demonstrated the enthusiasm, belief and success stories to support the need for it to happen. People came away from the event with new ideas and connections to help them deliver green prescribing and there was a clear sense that the network needs to grow and develop into a community of practice so green prescription are available to everyone who needs them. All these stories, ideas and interactions have been captured in beautiful visual illustrations. These have been included in a full report of the Forum.

Read the event report

Green Health Week is part of NatureScot’s ‘Our Natural Health Service’ initiative highlighting that everyone, regardless of age, ability or other circumstances, should be able to access Scotland’s fantastic natural environment and in doing so, improve their health and well-being. Across Scotland a range of promotions and activities will be happening so keep an eye out on social media using #GreenHealthWeek

The Grounds for Health Network is delivered in partnership with greenspace scotland and NHS Lothian as part of Edinburgh & Lothians Health Foundation's Greenspace and Health programme.