Cardiff’s new Heath Park Meadows Health and Wellbeing Route was launched on 11 May with guided meadow walks, a picnic and the unveiling of meadow-themed artwork. The route connects the University Hospital of Wales to the diverse meadows at Heath Park, and it can be enjoyed by the hospital’s patients, staff, visitors and the wider community.
Developed by the Centre for Sustainable Healthcare in partnership with Plantlife, the route is part of Magnificent Meadows Cymru, a programme designed to restore over 500 hectares of wildflower meadows and grassland in Wales while connecting communities to these environments for health and wellbeing. Magnificent Meadows is funded by the Welsh Government.
The Meadows Health and Wellbeing Route project developed interpretation panels displaying two meadow walking routes between the University Hospital of Wales and Heath Park: a gentle, 15-minute walk to the nearest meadow and a 35-minute stroll of the park’s wet meadows. The project promotes the use of nature as part of the care of patients while also benefitting the health and wellbeing of health staff. We are using our experience of developing the first Meadow Health and Wellbeing Route in Bangor and our own Green Health Routes project in England to promote the new route in Cardiff.
The route was launched during Mental Health Awareness Week 2022, as a way of advocating the many benefits linked to spending time and being active in nature. Walking in green spaces, including in meadows, can improve mental health through reductions in stress, anxiety, and depression, in addition to reducing the risk of illnesses such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer. As humans, we are part of nature, and when we are immersed in these environments we feel calmer, happier and more focused. Considering these, and many other benefits, our partnership is working to promote opportunities among health service users and health staff to make use of NHS land and nearby green spaces for health and wellbeing.
Hospital staff, council representatives and the local community joined the launch, which included a programme of meadow walks, a picnic, and the unveiling of meadow-themed artwork created by local children in partnership with Beth Morris Workshops. The artwork is now being displayed at the hospital’s concourse, bringing the colours of the meadows indoors.
For patients who are unable to visit the meadow in person, Plantlife has developed a virtual StoryMap which leads viewers along one of the new routes. This enables them to experience the colours and sounds of the Heath Park meadows without leaving their wards, and also introduces hospital staff to the routes, with the intention of encouraging them to walk these trails in their own time, to support their own health and wellbeing.
Banner photo: Launch of new Meadows Health And Wellbeing Route in Cardiff. Photo: Lauren Aldridge / Plantlife), 11 May 2022. All rights reserved.