London has lots of green space, but not everyone can get to it. Our report suggests ways to expand green social prescribing across London to help people benefit from green spaces.
We’ve found in previous research that being in nature is good for your mental health, and parks and other green spaces in London provide the opportunity to be in nature and enjoy the mental health benefits.
While there are parks and playing fields all over London, this isn’t the case compared to other UK cities, and even in London, they are not equally distributed or equally easy to get to for the public.
What is green social prescribing?
Green social prescribing is where primary care health professionals, such as GPs or nurses, can refer their patients to social prescribing link workers, who contact the individual with nature-based activities that benefit their physical and mental health.
What are the barriers to getting to green spaces in London?
Our research aimed to highlight the opportunities for supporting the expansion of green social prescribing, with a focus on understanding the current barriers. The barriers we identified fell into four categories:
- Communication – Between social prescribers and those offering nature-based activity
- Availability and engagement – For people to reach places offering nature-based activities, and also for them to feel welcome
- Representation – The need to increase diversity in nature-based activities
- Funding – Securing long-term funding (particularly for activities delivered by Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise (VCSE) partners)
Our report recommends a series of actions to expand the offer of green spaces across the city. The three main priorities are:
Focus on local neighbourhoods and local priorities
Creation of local forums to create communication channels among social prescribers, nature-based activity providers, and local residents.
Supporting the Green Social Prescribing ‘Ecosystem’
Co-production of a broad range of nature-based activities to give people lots of opportunities for initial and ongoing engagement.
Commissioning with a focus on diversity, inclusion and availability
Targeted funding and support for diverse groups to make sure that the offer is culturally and linguistically appropriate to residents and that availability needs can be met.