The Centre for Sustainable Healthcare (CSH) is expanding its Green Space for Health Programme with new funding from the Government’s Green Recovery Challenge Fund.

The grant will allow CSH to increase tree planting across healthcare sites as part of the NHS Forest and grow skills in this area. The new grant will also enable CSH to embed three Nature Recovery Rangers at NHS sites. The rangers will be working on green space conservation and restoration projects with a focus on connecting communities to natural surroundings. They will also train up apprentices working alongside them. In addition, the programme will provide therapeutic, nature-based wellbeing sessions for health staff at five NHS sites, and will train staff to run their own sessions.

The Green Recovery Challenge Fund has been developed by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and its Arm’s-Length Bodies. It supports projects that can implement nature-based solutions and connect people with the natural world. Chosen projects must be aligned with the Government’s 25-Year Environment Plan goals, which the Green Space for Health Programme will contribute to the delivery of.

Ginnie Abubakar, Community Engagement Manager at Mount Vernon Cancer Centre, said, “We are delighted to be working with CSH on this project. As the amount of evidence continues to build on just how important outdoor space is to both physical and mental health, we are extremely excited to be involved in a project that looks to maximise the use of the green space on our doorstep for the benefit of both staff and patient wellbeing. The new Nature Recovery Ranger post at Mount Vernon will be pivotal in finding the best ways to engage people in nature as part of their working life or treatment and recovery.”

The natural environment is at risk as a result of climate change, pollution, deforestation and significant changes in land use. The NHS is one of the UK’s largest environmental polluters and is responsible for an estimated 5% of the country’s carbon footprint. The Centre for Sustainable Healthcare inspires and empowers people to transform healthcare for a sustainable future. It collaborates with partners inside and outside healthcare to engage professionals, patients and the wider community in understanding the connections between health and environment, and to reduce healthcare’s footprint. The Centre’s Green Space for Health Programme encourages NHS sites to realise the potential of their green space for the health of both people and planet.

Rachel Stancliffe, Founder and Director of CSH said, “I’m so delighted that this fantastic programme has been funded. The NHS Forest has always been popular, and this grant will enable the team to reach many more sites, to create green jobs and to deepen the impact on nature and on health and wellbeing at a critical time for both the environment and the NHS.” 

Carey Newson, Green Space for Health Programme Lead said: “CSH has worked for over a decade with health sites that want to make the most of their green space for the benefit of patients, staff and the wider community, while also improving their biodiversity and taking action on climate change. There is huge interest in this area, and we are very excited to have received this funding which will allow us to expand the NHS Forest and begin two brand new collaborative projects with NHS partners.”

The Government’s Green Recovery Challenge Fund was developed by Defra and its Arm’s-Length Bodies. It is being delivered by The National Lottery Heritage Fund in partnership with Natural England, the Environment Agency and Forestry Commission.

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