The National Forest secures funding bid to boost people’s mental health and wellbeing

18th Jan 2021


We’re pleased to announce that the National Forest is a partner in a bid that has secured a £500,000 government funding boost to provide ‘green’ social prescribing, an initiative aimed at improving people’s mental health.

Green social prescribing is the practice of supporting patients to engage in nature-based activities. This can include walking, cycling, as well as tree planting, and other woodland volunteering activities, making the Forest a perfect place for a green prescription! Such physical activity can help people to manage long-term health conditions, improve their mental wellbeing, and research suggests if more people had access to green space it could also save our health service £2.1 billion per year.

We are one of a number of organisations that has worked with Joined Up Care Derbyshire to secure a bid to be one of only seven ‘Green Social Prescribing Test and Learn’ sites in England.

This innovative project is backed by a partnership involving the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Department of Health and Social Care, Natural England and other stakeholders.

Anne Jenkins, newly appointed trustee for the NFC, said: “It has been known for a good while that connecting to the natural world can help our health and wellbeing. Research has shown that simply having a view across green space from a hospital bed can aid recovery. I am delighted to be joining the NFC as a trustee at such an exciting time and that the National Forest has the opportunity through this project, to develop new ways of improving people’s health through connection with the natural world.

“Throughout the past unprecedented year the National Forest has truly come into its own as a source of support and wellbeing for the 220,000 people who live here, providing woodlands and green spaces on their doorstep. As we emerge from the pandemic, remodeling our healthcare system to make better use of our natural environment will be a great example of a green recovery.”

This new project will build on the Forest’s track record of working with partners to develop initiatives to aid people’s mental and physical health and wellbeing. Having pioneered health walks a couple of decades ago, Rosliston Forestry Centre continues to offer a host of activities through the Environmental Education Project and Get Active in the Forest. Wellbeing at Whistlewood, an organisation more recently grown out of a community-based woodland enterprise project in Melbourne, Derbyshire has just been awarded the 2020 Excellence Award for Green Therapy Business of the Year.

In addition, we have recently run a bursary scheme for local green therapy practitioners to develop their professional practice, introducing taster sessions in Forest Bathing at Timber festival in 2019. Later that year, we hosted the first Forest Bathing training course in the UK offered by the European Forest Therapy Institute, with graduates of that course going on to offer this sought-after therapeutic practice at a number of locations throughout the Forest, including Rosliston Forestry Centre and Wellbeing at Whistlewood.

As she takes up her role on the NFC board championing community initiatives in the Forest, Anne added: “We look forward to expanding on this work and supporting health and wellbeing activities for our communities throughout the Forest.”