Green Health Routes
Our Green Health Routes Programme supports communities in connecting with parks, gardens and forests in their local area to experience the health benefits of nature.
We work with healthcare practitioners to identify and promote health routes - attractive green walking routes that provide links to publicly accessible green spaces within the neighbourhood. GPs, social prescribing link workers and other healthcare professionals use our materials to support patients in enjoying local green spaces as part of a healthy lifestyle - a form of 'green prescribing'. Medical research from around the world demonstrates that a 'Green Prescription' can deliver physiological and psychological benefits for patients. The evidence also shows that doctors are ready and willing to give 'Green Prescriptions' to their patients.
How does it work?
The detailed design of each Green Health Routes project will depend on the location and the partners involved. But each of these projects involves the identification of suitable routes in consultation with local residents, the co-creation of neighbourhood maps, and community walks. The projects engage health professionals and support communities in getting to know their green spaces better. Some projects have included waymarker signs while others rely on leaflets and posters. Some projects have established regular led walks from GP practices. Some have involved celebratory community walks, walks led by wildlife guides and green space workshop activties in schools or community centres. We work directly with GP practices and healthcare professionals as well as with park and outdoor departments in councils. If you, or someone you know, is interested in hosting a walk, or in finding out more, get in touch!
We have set up and run Green Health Routes in a whole range of different neighbourhoods. Here are some examples:
Marston, which is just outside the centre of Oxford, has many green spaces, parks, cycle paths and walks. The Green Health Route here highlights local green space and is easy to follow thanks to waymarker signs on lamp-posts and leaflets featuring the route map made available at local hubs. Local GPs used the route to prescribe exercise, and volunteeer walk leaders ran weekly health walks. We also worked with a retirement home and the local schools, as well as setting up some special themed walks and nature based workshops.
In Jericho our route begins and ends at the Health Centre, enabling people to access the route directly from consultation with their doctor. It was designed by local people and the GPs, who were involved in the consultation process. As well as the parks and green spaces this route also includes a stretch of the canal towpath, and many of the area's community centres, adding a social element to the walk. Several guided walks with three local schools have also been a great way to get more people involved. Flyers are available for the route, as well as an interactive online map to use on mobile phones.
Frithwood surgery, Gloucestershire is a GP surgery near to Stroud. Healthcare practitioners from Frithwood Surgery have designed a health walk from the GP surgery through the village demonstrating the practice’s commitment to the health and wellbeing of their staff, patients and the local community. The GP and Practice Nurse and Frithwood Surgery, Gloucestershire, saw this as an opportunity to “engage with this community spirit and use our position as the clinical team to demonstrate the connection between green space and health" The inugaral walk included all GP staff including the partners.