Surrey Heartlands Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) is a GP-led organisation, responsible for planning and buying health services for the local population out of a budget of around £1.5 billion. Working with Surrey County Council, Surrey Heartlands CCG is one of seven national “test and learn” sites for Green Social Prescribing, which aims to connect people to the health benefits of nature and green spaces to improve mental health outcomes. More information is on the Healthy Surrey website.
The two-year project will review green interventions and work together with residents on new initiatives to assess effectiveness for a variety of health and wellbeing issues, including those surrounding people who experience health inequality.
Activities can include walking, cycling, community gardening and food-growing projects, and practical conservation tasks such as tree planting. For people who need help to get involved this could include supported visits to local green spaces, or waterways and other outdoor activities.
Part of the project includes working with a series of partners to identify the green opportunities already available in Surrey – the Society is involved in the consultation which includes health, district and borough councils, as well as voluntary community and faith sector organisations. The aim is to ensure that nature-based activities are easy to find and to develop new initiatives that are culturally relevant whilst helping the green sector become a more accessible place for our diverse population. Surrey Heartlands are also developing a quality standard which recognises good practice for Green Social Prescribing in Surrey.
The Society is naturally extremely supportive of this initiative and as the project develops over the next two years we hope to build on the initial research that we facilitated through the Into the Wild project. We are already working with a number of landowners and youth groups to encourage hedge planting through the Surrey Hills and we also see opportunities for Society volunteers to assist with green social prescribing opportunities such as guided walks and conservation activities.
Editors Note: The article “Social Prescribing – at local level” looks at how one medical centre in the area is putting these principles into practice.