Here’s a few stories from people who have participated in Green Social Prescribing projects.

Please note: names have been changed wherever identities were asked to be kept anonymous.

“Outdoors socialising has helped shift some of the darkness I feel daily”

Joe was referred to the Manchester Mind green social prescribing service by his GP because he was struggling with chronic fatigue syndrome, depression and anxiety and had become very isolated during the pandemic.

He attended Mind’s gardening groups and as a result, made some good friends, learned new skills and found a sense of community. He really enjoyed the fresh food he was able to try during the group sessions. Through the meal preparation, the team discovered that Joe was experiencing some financial struggles so they were able to refer him to Manchester Mind’s Emergency Meal Project for support accessing nutritious meals.

Once the Nature for Health Group finished, Joe attended some additional food related support events at Manchester Mind and entered into our recipe kits scheme. He is really interested in attending a cooking class and is particularly keen to learn how to make food choices which will help to boost his energy.

Joe has recently completed his application to volunteer with Manchester Mind and has attended a number of drop-in volunteering sessions at the garden. 

There’s a magic to this place.

Bury Greenwood Group meets weekly at Philips Park in Prestwich as part of the Men’s Shed Association. Volunteers create a safe and welcoming environment for individuals to socialise, learn new skills, and connect with nature.

With support from Lancashire Wildlife Trust and Bury Beacon Service, they created a monthly informal sister group ‘Green Wood Social,’ as part of the Nature for Health project, which welcomed anyone who would like to spend the morning having a chat whilst undertaking some basic conservation activities.

Robin was semi-retired and looking for a new purpose when he decided to self-refer to the group. He wanted to give something back and find a space which would help him relax.

After years in a stressful job, it had been a breath of fresh air to be able to spend so much time outdoors. Making things, being outside, working the woodland and talking with new friends was good for the soul.

‘It means so much to have somewhere to come where you have the freedom to speak about how you’re feeling. But also, the freedom to be quiet, to just be. People here understand – we’ve all been through similar things.’

No longer a fish out of water

John was isolated and had no friends to visit or visit him. His isolation began eight years ago when he was a victim of stalking and verbal abuse, which subsequently stopped him wanting to going out.

After speaking with his GP at the Wellfield Health Centre, John was referred to Lock 50, a joint programme between Canal and River Trust, Wellfield Health Centre and Petrus.

John was pleased to receive a social prescription for voluntary work for a few hours a week and ‘give something back’.

“At first, I felt very much a fish out of water, a feeling which did not begin to subside for several weeks.  On the first day, the weather was overcast but pleasant.  The group I found to be quiet and friendly, there to enjoy the activity as much as to meet socially.  Hot drinks and biscuits gave an opportunity for a break and a chat alongside the cutting back, tidying up, painting and litter picking.  Having an activity when meeting seemed to be important, because it allowed conversation to be more casual.  Of the others present, some were clearly reticent about talking, which was acceptable to me because I find too much talking can raise anxieties and ruin an otherwise peaceful and relaxing experience. 

“I am feeling better, less anxious, less under siege. Overall, I don’t feel as panicked as I did, but from the way that anxieties arise when there is a gap of four or five days between seeing people, it seems essential that I continue on the present course. “