Sustainable social care programme
Access to nature: case studies
The natural environment plays an important part in promoting and maintaining health and wellbeing. It can also aid recovery from ill health.
SCIE's At a Glance 28 Sustainable social care: the natural environment provides an overview of the evidence, brief case studies and links to sources of further information and support.
You can read about the case studies in more detail here. Click on the case study title for more information.
Hostel residents win at The Chelsea Flower ShowOpen
A group of residents at Bevin Court, a hostel in Sheffield for men aged 18+ who need temporary accommodation, were awarded a silver medal at the Chelsea Flower Show this year thanks to a project that started with growing hanging baskets at the hostel.
After their 'growing hanging baskets' project was a success, the residents were invited to contribute to the Places of Change Show Garden in Chelsea. The garden they created represented the recovery of a homeless person, beginning with weeds and leading to a beautiful ornamental garden with flowers and fountains. Participants were involved at every stage, from initial design through to planting, gardening and construction. They also helped out with on-site hospitality and multimedia facilities during the week of the show, gaining new skills and confidence, and discovering new talents. One of the residents involved said:
"A team of residents started to prepare the garden for the coming season. The land was turned over, weeded and set out for the growing of vegetables, plants and flowers. After this was completed we were asked to participate in a joint project to grow plants for the production of 300 hanging baskets, to be sold and the proceeds to be put back into the project. The plants were delivered and work began to grow the plants to a suitable size for the baskets. A lot of interest has been shown in the purchase of the baskets locally and further afield.
"The project [was] approached to help at the Chelsea Flower Show by potting up 60 three litre containers with weeds to be exhibited at the show to give visual impact of an unkempt garden. For the future a third poly-tunnel is in the pipeline which will expand the capability of the project and make life easier for the gardeners in the future."
The Places of Change Garden project was supported by government agencies, the Eden Project, Homeless Link, and the London Employer Accord.
Natural health for national fitnessOpen
Wildlife charity The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) facilitates access to the environment. One RSPB volunteer, who suffers from epilepsy and Asperger's syndrome, came to Rye Meads Nature Reserve following a difficult period in his life, where he was unemployed and suffering from bouts of depression. He says:
"Tasks like digging holes are a real source of stress relief and act as a therapy – a way of letting off some steam. I can also feel myself getting fitter and stronger and this all adds to my confidence. I enjoy lending my time to worthy causes and find that doing so gets me out and about and back into society following a very dark spell. Volunteering at the RSPB has completely changed my outlook and given me a new focus, making me feel better both mentally and physically."
This case study is featured in the RSPB's publication Natural Health, which can be downloaded from the society's health policy web pages.
Walking for Health and Natural EnglandOpen
90 year old Jim joined a Walking for Health (WfH) scheme following the death of his wife. Walking for Health is a Natural England initiative offering information, support and encouragement to beginners, existing walkers and health and leisure professionals. WfH has helped to create more than 590 local health walk schemes, trained over 40,000 volunteer walk leaders and, since 2000, is estimated to have encouraged more than a million people to walk more. Jim is a member of the Action for Life Lingfield walk scheme. He says:
"Losing my wife in 1999 caused me loneliness and friends suggested I join this walking group. I enjoy meeting the others, walking and talking, and I shall continue to enjoy walking for as long as possible."
A dedicated and diverse group with a large number of volunteer walk leaders, they have been able, for example, to put on a dedicated short walk for a recovering stroke victim, who turns up every week without fail.
Horticulture and exercise programmeOpen
A specially equipped garden at a resource centre for adults with learning disabilities has been created in Merseyside thanks to support from the local council, St Helens Chamber, St Helens Coalition for Disabled People and St Helens People's Choice.
The garden boosts the wellbeing of people at the resource centre through gardening and outdoor exercise, and the project hopes to develop the centre as a social enterprise for people with learning disabilities.
Phoenix Futures Conservation ProgrammeOpen
The Phoenix Futures Programme, in partnership with Natural England, contributes to the therapeutic rehabilitation of individuals with substance misuse problems through their active involvement in conservation projects on National Nature Reserves.
Those involved are given the opportunity to contribute to a variety of work including habitat management, boundary construction and footpath repairs. The programme has led to increased retention in effective treatment.
Intergenerational gardening schemesOpen
Volunteers at Alexandra Lodge care home in Portsmouth run gardening sessions every week for the residents. The group grow fruit, vegetables and plants, and the garden is used all the time by residents. Age has proved no barrier to taking part, with one group member being 100 years old.
The Alexandra Lodge group is now linked to Stamshaw adventure playground, where local grandparents and a volunteer gardener run a gardening group for children. These gardening schemes have helped to boost the activity levels of participants, and provide opportunities to socialise across age groups.