‘Our Community, Our Park’ - The Friends of Woodfield Park Project, St Catherine’s Hospital, Doncaster

Tuesday, 8 March, 2016

Multiple studies have shown that being outdoors can help people to stay healthier and to recover more quickly when they are ill. The Centre for Sustainable Healthcare believes that access to green space activities offers a low-carbon alternative, or complementary, healthcare option and runs the NHS Forest programme at 160 sites across the UK to support healthcare providers to encourage patients, staff and community members to benefit their health via outdoor activities. As part of this programme, CSH has been coordinating a project at Woodfield Park in Doncaster, in the grounds of the former St Catherine’s Hospital, to involve local people in healthy outdoor activities. This mental healthcare hospital was closed a few years ago and services transferred to nearby facilities, but the beautiful grounds have been opened up to service users and to local people living in the surrounding housing estates. CSH's project includes supporting a new walking group at the site and is also enabling local schoolchildren at Woodfield Primary School to be involved in eco-arts to re-engage them with the natural environment. 

The children’s art activities are being run by darts, a community arts organisation based in Doncaster, and they have enjoyed sessions in photography, ceramics and woodland sculpture, as well as producing some wonderful textile bugs! These have recently been featured on the website of the Saatchi Gallery as part of their Art Prize for Schools. You can see some of the children’s wonderful creations featured on the gallery website here – just click on the pictures to find out more about each artwork: http://www.saatchigallery.com/portfolio/SchoolInfo/Woodfield+Primary+School/529.html

All of these activities mean that members of the local community can join together in activities in the woodland, or visit the site independently, so that many more local people can enjoy the multiple health benefits of green space. The management of the project is now being handed over to a local voluntary group, the Friends of Woodfield Park, who are well-placed to take the project forward. The Centre for Sustainable Healthcare is very grateful for support from Rotherham Doncaster and South Humber NHS Foundation Trust, the Big Lottery and the People’s Health Trust towards this thriving project. Please click on the document below for more information about this pioneering project.