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National Academy for Green Social Prescribing launch new toolkit

The National Academy for Social Prescribing has released a new toolkit for anyone who has a role in developing green social prescribing in their area.

Green Social Prescribing Test and Learn Programme

Launched in April 2021, this £5.77 million cross-government programme set out to test how to embed green social prescribing into communities in order to: 

  • Improve mental health outcomes
  • Reduce health inequalities 
  • Reduce demand on the health and social care system 
  • Develop best practice in making green social activities more resilient and accessible

The programme included:

  • Support for seven test and learn Integrated Care Systems (ICSs) to tackle and prevent mental ill-health, including financial resource, national programme support, and a programme-wide community of practice
  • Expressions of interest were invited from ICSs experiencing the impact of Covid 19 and health inequalities as well as mental health need
  • Programme partners, DHSC, commissioned two pieces of research; one into perceptions of green social prescribing amongst patients, potential users, and clinicians, and one to understand capacity in the green sector, to support wider delivery, beyond the test and learn sites
  • A national evaluation project managed by Defra

Results and findings

  • Over 8,500 people have been referred to a green social prescribing activity during the programme from April 2021-March 2023.
  • Interim evaluation findings showed positive improvements in mental health and wellbeing and strong engagement in communities experiencing high levels of social inequalities that affect health and wellbeing. The final evaluation report will be published later in 2023
  • 85% uptake of green social prescriptions when offered
  • Green networks have been established in all test and learn sites
  • Integrated workforce development has increased trust and understanding between delivery partners and healthcare providers, leading to more referrals to suitable green activities
  • Green social prescribing is represented in policy and strategy at a national and local level across different government sectors
  • Green social prescribing continues to be delivered in all seven of the test and learn sites, demonstrating a lasting impact of the programme

Green Social Prescribing Toolkit 

The learning from the programme has been captured in a Green Social Prescribing Toolkit designed to help communities, organisations and health professionals who are looking to set up green social prescribing programmes that connect with local health systems.

The toolkit includes details of the project, including:

  • Information about specific projects involved in the pilot
  • Templates and guidelines for getting started and best practice
  • Links to evaluation and research
  • Links to other useful resources

Whilst this toolkit focuses on green social prescribing, the framework could be adapted for other activity types including arts, heritage, and physical activity.

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