£50k funding from the Thriving Communities Fund, delivered by the National Academy for Social Prescribing and partners, will enable the development of the first ‘Green Happy Café’ as a wellbeing hub promoting green social prescribing in Northamptonshire.
The Thriving Communities Fund will support communities to address issues they face as the result of COVID-19, through innovative social prescribing, helping people to stay connected and maintain their health and wellbeing.
The Thriving Communities Programme, with its £1.8 million fund, will support 37 projects across England, delivered in a unique partnership between the National Academy for Social Prescribing, Arts Council England, Historic England and Natural England, NHS England and Improvement, Sport England, the Money & Pensions Service and NHS Charities Together.
Delapré Abbey Preservation Trust with core partners Action for Happiness Northamptonshire, Warts and All Theatre, The General Practice Alliance Federation, Northampton Leisure Trust, and the University of Northampton will work to put communities at the heart of public health.
Based on Action for Happiness’ ‘Ten Keys to Happier Living’, this project aims to reach and improve the health of up to 3000 people through arts, culture, and physical activities utilising green and heritage spaces.
The programme will focus on arts and culture experiences, community decision making, volunteer training, social groups to form relationships, variety of exercise classes, mindfulness, skills building, and resilience through talking therapies.
Through person and community-centred approaches to health and wellbeing, and utilising and building on the community asset of Delapré Abbey and Park, the project will empower people to have control over their health and change conditions in society that drive poor health.
Richard Clinton, Chief Executive of Delapré Abbey Preservation Trust, said:
“We’re delighted to receive this funding to establish a social prescribing hub in a much-loved green space in Northamptonshire. This project will provide greater awareness of green social prescribing, and through a co-creation model deliver a range of activities and programmes with our communities and practitioners; connecting more people with nature and heritage, post-lockdown and for years to come.”
Christopher Elmer-Gorry, Artistic Director and CEO of Warts and All Theatre, a company leading the way in artistic co-creation with communities commented:
“It’s a fantastic opportunity to create a programme of activity that is co-designed and embeds individuals in active decision making. By shaping wellbeing activities that truly reflects what the community want and need, we will ensure that communities have an active voice in the creation of the programme. This approach will in turn enable the community to thrive, celebrate its success and own the impact.”
Dr David Smart, Clinical Director, The General Practice Alliance Federation said:
“As a GP of 30 years I know the value of exercise in nature with others. The Ten Keys to Happier Living will really come alive in such a beautiful setting, and resources and courses developed can be shared with other green spaces across the town.”
Lucy Wightman, Director Of Public Health at Northamptonshire County Council said:
“The Coronavirus pandemic has impacted on the mental and social wellbeing of many people across Northamptonshire. This project, combines a number of key factors which can support improved general wellbeing; social interaction, physical activity, being in the outdoors and personal development opportunities. This project will add value to the whole wellbeing of the individuals that take part as they recover from their experiences during the pandemic and look forward to new opportunities and better health and wellbeing.”
The Far-Cotton & Delapre ward in Northamptonshire is one of the top 10% most deprived wards in the country and deprivation has a noticeable impact on the life chances of young people and increased health inequalities.
The goal is to increase the health of the town’s population and reduce healthcare utilisation. There will also be legacy assets, such as green routes, park activities and a wellbeing app. By documenting the learning and development they will show why access to green spaces is so important, and just how it can be used within social prescribing.
Warts and All Theatre
Warts and All Theatre, is a theatre company with a vision to create theatre where everyone belongs, voices are heard, society is fair and communities thrive. Alongside the community they will create and shape a programme of wellbeing activities that reflect service users’ needs.
The General Practice Alliance Federation
Covering nearly all the GP population of Northampton, and employing the majority of PCN Social Prescriber Link Workers across the town, will use a community participative approach to support raising awareness of green social prescribing as a community asset. Embedding the project within the existing networks will help ensure that more people are reached and it has a legacy.
Northampton Leisure Trust
Northampton Leisure Trust operates a number of leisure facilities to provide active lifestyles in Northampton. The Trust is committed to developing community-based opportunities that will co-ordinate, push forward and develop programmes for people of all ages to take part in physical activity and promote the health and wellbeing benefits of an active lifestyle.
The University of Northampton
The Green Happy Café will be backed up by research by The University of Northampton who will provide an evaluation of the project in partnership with Thriving Places Index and identify achievements. The supporting evaluation from the University demonstrates its continued commitment to making Northamptonshire the leading county in the UK for Health and Wellbeing. The evaluation is just the latest mutual benefit to arise from the Memorandum of Understanding that was signed by Dr John Sinclair, Dean of the Faculty of Arts, Science, and Technology at the University of Northampton and Richard Clinton, CEO of Delapré Abbey Preservation Trust.
The first Green Happy Café will hopefully inspire the establishment of many more.