The Centre for Sustainable Healthcare (CSH) has joined the 2.6 Challenge, a nationwide fundraising campaign launched in response to Covid-19 to save the UK’s charities. Thousands of fundraising events have had to be cancelled during the pandemic, with a loss of billions of pounds in funding for charity across the country. The 2.6 Challenge was inspired by the cancellation of the London Marathon, which is 26 miles long and would have taken place on 26 April 2020. Participants are encouraged to come up with any activity based on the numbers 2.6 or 26.

Funds raised by CSH are being used to buy trees to plant at our 190+ NHS Forest sites across the UK. These will enhance natural outdoor spaces at hospitals and health centres, allowing people to enjoy green space for therapy, rehabilitation and relaxation.

This is particularly important right now, as the spread of Covid-19 is causing high levels of stress and anxiety amongst doctors, nurses, and other healthcare workers. The British Medical Association has reminded NHS staff of the importance of looking after each other, as well as their patients, and has advised staff to call on tried and tested coping strategies, such as taking a break in fresh air.

Our NHS Forest sites are perfect as outdoor sanctuaries and oases of calm at this hectic time. Studies show that green space is soothing to the senses, and being in a natural environment can help people to manage their stress levels. This is particularly important for healthcare workers at the present time, as having NHS Forest green spaces immediately accessible at their hospitals offers them a safety valve to cope with the inevitability of workplace stress.

We are very grateful to have received support from people completing their 2.6 Challenges as well as the many people who have made donations. We have a waiting list of sites keen to plant trees, so the money raised will ensure that NHS hospitals have even more saplings to enhance their green spaces – thank you!

The CSH team will all be walking 2.6 miles in green space near to our homes, while observing social distancing guidelines. Follow the NHS Forest on Twitter to see the photos that we have taken of nature along the way – we’re aiming for 26 beautiful photos in keeping with the theme.

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