Prestwich Hospital is the Headquarters of Greater Manchester Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust (GMMH). In 2020 the Trust designed and launched the Prestwich Green Health Walk in partnership with Sow the City.

The hospital is in a semi-rural location with municipal parks on both sides and access to woodlands and waterways. A Phase 1 Habitat Survey completed in advance of the Green Health Walk identified many species of bats and wildlife including endangered and protected species.

Prestwich Hospital raised beds
Prestwich Hospital raised beds. All rights reserved.
Prestwich Hospital orchard
Prestwich Hospital orchard. All rights reserved.

Staff and service users at the hospital worked together to create a guided route around the site, with seven marked points where there are things of natural interest to look at and talk about. These include two forest plantings: one of fruit trees at the entrance to the site, and a deciduous forest of 40 trees in the middle of the site. There are also bat and bird boxes; a bug hotel and herb garden; the vegetable allotment, and of course our chainsaw squirrel sculpture created by a local artist to represent our commitment to protecting the local environment.

As a mental health trust, GMMH is very aware of Green Health and Social Prescribing where natural environments can be used to benefit our clients and provide outdoor spaces which can be enjoyed as part of treatment or in the company of friends and visitors. Some of our clients have received AQA qualifications in Organic Gardening and have taken on the role of maintaining the herb gardens and checking regularly on bat and bird boxes.

Prestwich Hospital bug hotel
Prestwich Hospital bug hotel. All rights reserved
Prestwich Hospital bat box
Prestwich Hospital bat box. All rights reserved.

The Trust has an existing Small Bids Fund process where any member of staff can bid for £100 to enhance service user and staff wellbeing activities across the trust. We are now working to use this funding in Small Bids for Sustainability where services and teams can claim the money to purchase a raised bed for planting, or a bench to enjoy outside space, and hopefully plant something tasty so clients can eat and enjoy the fruits of their labours – literally!

To support Clean Air week and promote an understanding of how planting can reduce air pollution, the hospital planted and shared out over 300 spider plant seedlings in the Spider Plant Challenge. Staff take a seedling in a small fibre pot, keep it in their office or ward to improve air quality, and then repot it into something that would otherwise have been waste. There are now spider plants in watering cans, plastic dinosaurs, and even an upturned angle poise lamp.