Each year, we are inspired and impressed by the creativity shown by our NHS Forest sites, in using their green spaces and encouraging engagement with them. This year was no different.

Hot composters, a digital green hub, a published nature guide and a social prescribing initiative that cultivates skill-sharing are among this years winners. The awards were presented at our 2022 NHS Forest conference on 19 October. Congratulations to all the winning sites!

Award: Innovative development of green space at health sites

Frome Medical Practice, Somerset
Frome Medical Practice - on-site composting
Frome Medical Practice – on-site composting. All rights reserved.

Frome Medical Practice has demonstrated that even the smallest scale green space projects can make a big impact. Keen to reduce the amount of staff food waste that was sent to landfill, they began taking their kitchen scraps to a community composter in 2021. This year, they secured funding to install their own hot composters on site with a community compost group, creating a simple but effective closed-loop system on site.

Frome Medical Practice has been able to vastly reduce the amount of food waste from staff meals, and to produce its own nutrient-rich compost for use in its Wellbeing Garden. Importantly, staff have become much more aware of the issue of food waste – some have begun composting at home, and ten staff attended a composter training session. The visibility of the hot composters lends itself to a simple patient learning resource, and the practice is now installing patient information screens to initiate further conversation with the community.

Award: Active community engagement

The Grow Well Project, Cardiff and Vale University Health Board
The Grow Well Project, Cardiff and Vale University Health Board
The Grow Well Project, Cardiff and Vale University Health Board. All rights reserved.

Grow Well is a social prescribing project that links service users to therapeutic community gardens, founded by registered charity Grow Cardiff alongside 10 GP surgeries. The project believes that everyone has a gift, skill or experience to share, and based on this principle it works alongside patients to co-design, co-produce and sustain these community gardens: thriving, wildlife-rich oases in densely populated, grey areas of the city.

 Grow Well positively engages some of the most isolated and hardest to reach members of the community. During its weekly sessions, it aims to improve health and wellbeing of those affected by poor mental and physical health, loneliness and isolation. Participants can choose from a wide range of activities including gardening, harvesting vegetables, arts and crafts for the gardens, carpentry, creating wildlife habitats, making soup with garden produce, or simply sitting and listening to the birds. There is always time for a chat and a cup of tea.

The project has engaged hundreds of patients since its inception. Through work with the Wales School of Social Prescribing, Grow Well has evidenced that it actively improves participant health and wellbeing as well as actively greening the city. Two of its three gardens are open access, and can be enjoyed by community members at any time.

Award: Pioneering use of green space by healthcare professionals

Green Hub, Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust
Green Hub, Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust
Green Hub, Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust. All rights reserved.

At last year’s NHS Forest conference, we heard from Claire Blakey of Highbury Hospital in Nottingham, who talked about the success of Highbury Community Garden. This year, the hospital returns to the NHS Forest conference – this time as an award winner, for their Green Hub.

The Green Hub is a new resource to support Green Social Prescribing, hosted on the Trust’s external website. The site is used by clinicians, service users, patients, and the public to access a wealth of information to inspire and equip teams, and individuals, to utilise green spaces for wellbeing and recovery. It includes access to gardening packs, advice to attract wildlife, a month-by-month guide to support even the newest gardeners, with videos from the gardener at Highbury Community Garden, and an interactive map of the Greenspaces at Nottinghamshire Healthcare.

The Hub can also be prescribed through Recap, a platform through which digital information relevant to the person and their treatment, care or support, is prescribed for health, wellbeing, and recovery. Since its launch in March 2022 the site has been accessed almost 5,000 times and there have been over 70 referrals for gardening packs.

Award: Successful ways to support biodiversity

Salisbury District Hospital, Wiltshire
Salisbury CAMHS Garden Project, Salisbury District Hospital
Salisbury District Hospital. All rights reserved.

Salisbury District Hospital sits in around 21 hectares of land in a countryside setting. Over the past three years the hospital has worked hard to achieve greater engagement and understanding of the natural environment in and around the site. A key part of this was the production of a full colour nature guide, complete with illustrations, scientific information and seasonal calendar, written by staff member James Macpherson. There is also a printed walking guide to public footpaths and natural spaces around the hospital

The ArtCare team have worked hard to encourage engagement with the surrounding green spaces, and have set up various activities to achieve this. There are monthly nature walks for staff and the public, species surveys, including moth traps, working with ICU staff, and creative activities in outdoor spaces, complete with online resources.

Salisbury District Hospital has also hosted an eight-week course, working with a willow and land artists, providing activities for mental health referral participants, and its recently developed CAMHS garden supports younger mental health patients.

Staff, patients and visitors are now more connected to the natural environment, the grounds are better managed, wildflowers are flourishing – including bee orchids – and staff have relaxing outdoor spaces to visit during breaks.

Award: Most trees planted for the NHS Forest in 2021-22

Rampton Hospital, Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust
Rampton Hospital, Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust
Rampton Hospital, Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust. All rights reserved.

Rampton Hospital, part of Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, planted an incredible 4,120 trees in the last planting season through a partnership with The Conservation Volunteers and Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service. People on Probation planted the saplings on trust land, providing them with meaningful and engaging work as part of the Community Payback scheme.

The tree species include oak, cherry, and hawthorn. As they grow, they will support an array of wildlife as well as reducing flood risk from a nearby watercourse. The People on Probation will return to the site over the next few years to care for the trees and plant additional trees, and Rampton’s patients will be selecting a name for the new woodland which will contribute to the Queen’s Green Canopy.

We’re looking forward to hearing how these projects grow and flourish over the coming years!

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