Nature for Health programme hosts visitors from Kyoto, Japan

Through the Nature for Health Network, as well as the EU funded Green Health Horizon project, partners from Kyoto, Japan visited Greater Manchester to discover how we are using nature-based interventions to address health inequalities.

The neurology research team from Japan has been developing a Green Farm Rehabilitation programme at a hospital in Kyoto, Japan. This programme uses horticultural and agricultural activities as a means of therapy for people with mental and physical ill-health.

The Japanese team is interested in learning from Greater Manchester’s Nature for Health programme, which considered how we support people with mental ill health, by offering connection to the natural environment through referral to nature-based activities, groups and organisations. Nature for Health worked with a network of partners to develop the infrastructure needed to support more nature-based groups, encourage more diverse activities and support professionals to refer, and people to use, our natural spaces.

Representatives from the Nature for Health Network hosted the Japanese research team at RHS Bridgewater on 30th August to show how we use community food growing to address mental and physical health issues and reduce health inequalities. We shared learning, research and operational advice, as well as heard more about the work taking place in Kyoto. We hope this will be one of many opportunities to share our work and further develop international partnerships.

Regarding the visit, Masanaga Yamawaki MD, PhD, Tokyo Medical & Dental Univ. stated: “I learned a lot from visiting RHS Bridgewater. Currently, we are applying Green Therapy to rehabilitation and trying to establishing evidence for wellbeing. Moreover, we are planning to extend it to elderly people and local community. The experience of visiting RHS Bridgewater increased our motivation. We look forward to collaborating with you in the future.”

Since the Nature for Health programme started in June 2021, we have supported 1082 people through the programme, through 80 different organisations. We see clear benefits to the mental and physical health of participants, as well as improved ongoing connection to nature.

We have also delivered over 50 workforce training sessions and helped create new programmes within our mental health trusts. A Nature for Health Steering Group has been established to secure long term growth in the green sector and increase access to funding for ongoing delivery of activities and groups.