The Green Wellbeing Alliance is a collaborative network of organisations that provide therapeutic outdoor activities. Our participants improve their wellbeing and health while connecting with nature and other people.
Our activities in nature can benefit a huge range of people including those with mental health difficulties, dementia, at risk young people, survivors of abuse, and people living with physical health conditions.
Many national studies and reports have highlighted the benefits of garden and outdoor projects for physical & mental health, find out more below.
The Green Wellbeing Alliance started in September 2016, when groups running similar types of outdoor activities came together to discuss mutual connections within their work. The membership of the Alliance includes groups with physical sites across Sussex as well as those who deliver their activities more flexibly, at a range of outdoor locations across the county. The Alliance has been hugely valuable in enabling shared learning and joint working.
The evidence base
Many national studies and reports evidence the benefits of garden/ outdoor projects for physical & mental health. They have been proven to reduce stress, depression, self-harm and destructive behaviours and improve social interaction, life satisfaction, self-esteem, meaningful activity and achievement.
Independent evaluations of local projects within the Alliance back-up these findings and show greater benefit for vulnerable people taking part.
Evaluation of our work over three years by the University of Essex found:
of participants reported improved happiness, mood or wellbeing
reported improved physical health
reported greater skills or confidence
said that taking part would have a long-term impact on them
This backs up results from other reports including:
- Gardens and health: Implications for policy and practice, Kings Fund 2017
- Good practice in social prescribing for mental health: the role of nature-based interventions, Natural England 2017
- A review of nature-based interventions for mental health care, Natural England 2016
- Social return on investment analysis of the health and wellbeing impacts of Wildlife Trust programmes, Leeds Beckett University 2019
- An evaluation of a nature-based intervention for people with experiences of psychological distress, University of Brighton research on the Grow project, 2016
- Benefits of food growing for health & wellbeing – overview of the evidence, Growing Health 2014
- Feel better outside, feel better inside: Ecotherapy for mental wellbeing, resilience and recovery, Mind 2013
“One in four adults experiences at least one diagnosable mental health problem… representing the largest single cause of disability… mental health has not had the priority awarded to physical health, has been short of qualified staff and deprived of funds… Physical and mental health are closely linked – people with severe and prolonged mental illness are at risk of dying on average 15 to 20 years earlier.”
– Five Year Forward View on Mental Health, NHS England 2016 –
The Green Wellbeing Alliance is coordinated by the Brighton & Hove Food Partnership.
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What we’ve heard from participants and supporters
“Sharing outdoor space, appreciating nature with others is special. Sharing experiences and skills, whatever they may be, in a beautiful setting and the fresh air is revitalising. These organisations are amazing and life-changing. I am evidence of that.”
“He has historically got in to fights with people but he found the setting of an allotment helped him manage his anger and he knew he could walk away if he needed to. The knock on effect of this has been him moving through band 2 accommodation in to band 3 and maintaining abstinence from alcohol, drugs and begging.”
– Referrer –
The Grow Project
“It’s been worth more and more useful to me than all the psychotherapies I’ve had. It’s been amazing for me.”
– Grow participant –
“Volunteering at Rock Farm is integral to my mental health and physical wellbeing and a key day in my week... it has become my safe space; a slice of normality and peace during challenging and uncertain times. "
- Rock Farm volunteer -
“Now I’m at stage now where I want to get right stuck in with it all, I want to give something back now and I’ve come a long way in my recovery. It given me a different view of living in this city coming to gardens like this and I feel I want to move towards helping other people in gardens like this who used to feel like me.”
– Food Partnership volunteer –
“The work that the Food Partnership do is truly amazing and really inspiring for the health and wellbeing of our clients.”
– Referrer –
“This is the first place I've come out to on my own for a very long time. I was worried I wouldn't be able to cope but...I'd really like to come regularly. I've really enjoyed it.”
– Plot 22 participant –
Centre for Ecotherapy
“I’ve found taking part in this programme much, much, better than any of the counselling I have received.”
– Centre for Ecotherapy participant –
The Grow Project
“In the past few years since I started experiencing anxiety, I’ve realised how important getting outdoors is on a regular basis…this course has just really brought home how essential it is for me to do exactly that… I feel like Grow has really set me up for life.”
– Grow participant –
“For a long time there was no way anyone would employ me for volunteering because of my past, just a long string of shoplifting over and over, so I just carried on drinking, but now people are giving me a chance with projects like this and so I can finally start to move on. This is me, I love it, being outdoors, I do volunteering in other places two other days a week so I’m getting sorted.”
“I want to thank you so much for protecting a space and facilitating sessions specifically for our Mill View service users. The feedback from staff and patient has been really positive... On our sessions so far I have observed our service users increase in mood, social interaction and reduction in mental distress, [participants] engaged in the activities, inspired by the relaxing environment and thoughtful and engaging education.”
– Referrer from Millview Hospital –
“This garden has been a lifeline for me, I don’t know what I would have done without it. These opportunities have changed my life for the better and I’m so grateful.”
– Food Partnership participant –
“I've found myself utilising skills learnt and drawing on experiences and feelings I've had had in various eco-therapy groups... building resilience and coping strategies for wider life and the future.”
The Grow Project
“Helped me with anxieties which I am always struggling and living with. Helped me in a group environment to socialise and feel part of nature and in a group.”
– Grow participant –
“My mental and physical wellbeing has been significantly helped by attending these groups. Having a regular commitment at a certain day and time really helps with my structure and routine which is really important... The safe and welcoming space of these groups is also brilliant. It helps reduce anxiety and manage my overall health and wellbeing.”
The Wild Mind Project
“I think this is the best activity programme that could be prescribed to young people with mental health issues and I really feel happy with what’s come out of it, and I’ve made a supportive group of friends – I would encourage anyone to do it and if I could I would love to do it every week.”
– participant –
About us and how to join the Alliance
The Green Wellbeing Alliance was formed in 2016 with three main aims:
- To act as a discussion forum for Sussex-based providers of green wellbeing, to share information and best practice and provide a local network of mutual support and to link to national initiatives;
- To better promote green wellbeing to organisations and individuals involved in the commissioning and delivery of health and wellbeing services, by developing a common language and shared understanding of the various green wellbeing approaches;
- To work together to develop and deliver larger-scale green wellbeing programmes through grant-aid or commissioning processes.
The Alliance usually meets on a monthly basis, with at least 4 ‘open’ meetings where prospective members may attend each year.
To become a Member of the Sussex Green Wellbeing Alliance:
- an individual must be directly delivering a Green Wellbeing programme, or represent an organisation or agency that is working in or supporting the Green Wellbeing agenda in Sussex
- must complete the Green Wellbeing Alliance quality standards form
- should be nominated by an existing member of the Alliance, and approved by a majority of the Alliance members.
Please contact the Food Partnership on email@example.com for any enquiries about joining or connecting with the Green Wellbeing Alliance.