1.2m fund launched for NHS charities to create green spaces

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1.2m fund launched for NHS charities to create green spaces

By Alex Robinson 27th April, 2023

Greener Communities is a new £1.2m fund, launched by Hubbub in partnership with Starbucks and NHS Charities Together. The fund will aim to create or improve green spaces across the UK to boost public health and wellbeing and provide environmental benefits.

Today we’re announcing the 10 winning NHS charity members who applied for grants of between £29,000 and £200,000 for up to two years. The projects will increase access to nature and green spaces for people who have had limited opportunities to enjoy nature’s benefits, including hospital patients and visitors, NHS staff, and people living in urban communities. The winning projects include:

  • A therapeutic woodland space for young people in mental health crisis in Birmingham 
  • A nature trail, green spaces and workshops to aid the recovery and improve health outcomes of patients with long-term health conditions in London 
  • A therapeutic gardening project for patients experiencing mental and physical health difficulties and social isolation in Cardiff 
  • Wellbeing gardens for patients and staff at hospitals in Aberdeen, Colchester, Gloucestershire and Hartlepool 
  • An accessible play area for a children’s respite service in Norfolk 
  • A project to improve biodiversity and space for community growing, composting and an outdoor classroom in Burnley 
  • An outside education space for health and wellbeing workshops for the Ambulance Service in Yorkshire 
  • Alongside these projects, we've been working with four pilot projects in London, Greater Manchester, Cardiff and Glasgow which will provide guidance and inspiration for the winning projects.

Health, nature and climate: what’s the link?

You might have heard the term ‘green social prescribing’: the practice of supporting people to engage in nature-based interventions and activities to improve their mental health. The link between mental health and spending time in nature is becoming much better understood, partly as a result of the pandemic. The Mental Health Foundation reported that nearly half of the UK said that visiting green spaces, such as parks, helped them to cope during lockdowns. But Covid also threw the inequity of access to green spaces into sharp relief, as well as the fact that not all outdoor spaces are created equal. One in every five people in England have limited access to green space1 Low-quality spaces – lacking greenery, say, or blighted by litter – don’t bring the same benefits as tranquil, biodiverse gardens.2 The fund launches as the use of green social prescribing is on the rise. We’ve sought to fund projects that can demonstrate social and/or health benefits, such as improved mental health, reduced social isolation and access to healthy diets, as well as a positive impact on the local environment.

The Greener Communities Fund is part of our rapidly developing work supporting community access to nature and green spaces. In Our Nature in Manchester is a city-wide climate campaign that includes urban greening projects exploring how spending time in nature can help catalyse planet-friendly actions in our everyday lives. It’s building on a growing body of evidence that feeling connected with nature leads to more pro-environmental behaviour, among other benefits3. Meanwhile in East London, Greener Together united a community to turn grey to green, tackle fly-tipping and littering, create safer and more accessible spaces for play and exercise, and tackle broader issues related to social and environmental inequalities. It’s led to Breaking Ground, funding similar initiatives in five London boroughs. In 2023 and beyond, we expect to spend more time exploring the impact we can have working with communities to bring about a wide spectrum of positive outcomes through nature-based projects.

A natural development

The new fund is the latest initiative from our ongoing partnership with Starbucks, where we use funds generated from their 5p cup charge to run large-scale environmental campaigns. It marks a strategic shift in focus: the initial aims of our partnership revolved around encouraging recycling and reuse of food and drink packaging, and reducing the environmental impact of plastic. As a mark of our increased ambition for the partnership, the next phase will focus on creating deeper social and environmental benefits.

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