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Agenda item

Green Prescribing

Report of the Director of Adult Social Care, Sheffield City Council.

Minutes:

6.1

The Committee received a report on Green Prescribing, which gave a brief outline of community wellbeing (People Keeping Well) and social prescribing in Sheffield, provided examples of green prescribing in Sheffield, and outlined how the NHS was providing funding to assist with green and blue prescribing and the role of the Council’s Parks, Woodlands and Countryside Service in managing the green assets/space which directly contributes to the wellbeing of Sheffield’s citizens.

 

 

6.2

Present for this item were Lewis Bowman (Voluntary Action Sheffield), Jon Dallow (Woodland Project Officer, Sheffield City Council), Emma Dickinson (Commissioning Manager, Sheffield City Council), Sue Pearson (Heeley City Farm), Amy Simcox and one other Officer (Sheffield Wildlife Trust).

 

 

6.3

Emma Dickinson stated that in Sheffield there had been a long understanding that health and wellbeing was determined by the circumstances into which people were born, grew, educated, lived and worked, as well as the friendship groups they developed, alongside the medical support received.  She said that voluntary sector organisations have worked alongside primary care to deliver social prescribing within the city for over 10 years.  Ms Dickinson said that the People Keeping Well initiative was the city’s community wellbeing approach, which was jointly funded by the City Council and Sheffield Commissioning Group by approximately £1.5m, to help with projects such as Heeley City Farm, Southey/Owlerton Area Regeneration (SOAR), Manor Castle Development Trust, Darnall Wellbeing, Woodhouse Community Trust and many more.   Over the past three years, Primary Care Networks, in partnerships of GP surgeries, had been funded through NHS England to have social prescribing link workers. Green prescribing encouraged people to do more activities outside and connect with “natureness” to improve health and wellbeing.  She stated that the Government had agreed to fund seven Integrated Care Systems (NHS) to test and learn about green and blue prescribing, and the South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw ICS had been successful in securing funding to develop an insight into exploring and bringing together opportunities for communities to get involved in their natural environment and there were many projects which had secured grant funding from the ICS.

 

 

6.4

Jon Dallow stated that the pandemic had highlighted how being outdoors and connecting to nature had contributed to people’s wellbeing and more people were using outdoor spaces.  He said that the priority of the Parks, Woodlands and Countryside Service was to maintain the asset that Sheffield had as a green city and maximise community value and raise accessibility standards.  He referred to the map in the report which showed 800 places that the Service manages on behalf of the city.  He said that people now needed to feel confident and safe, and that the natural environment should be part of schools’ curriculum.  Jon Dallow stated that the challenge for the local authority was to look across the whole of the city, as although many green spaces were available, not all were easily accessible to everyone and there were more toilets and accessible facilities that provide refreshments in the west of the city than in the east.  There needed to be levelling up and work was being carried out with communities to help them engage in green spaces.  He referred to projects currently underway to bring the network of opportunities together for all communities to enjoy the city’s hills, meadows,  canals, parks, allotments, river valleys or moorlands and that these spaces were safe, welcoming, accessible and well maintained.

 

 

6.5

Sue Pearson stated that Heeley City Farm had been established for 40 years and felt lucky that, during the pandemic, managing farms, local care, looking after animals etc. was protected so the farm had been able to carry on working.  She said the Farm aligns with people living in areas of deprivation by improving their mental health and wellbeing, as well as people from other countries who, until they had settled status, needed something to do, something to occupy them, to feel engaged and activities at the Farm offered that. She said that there were 45 workers at the Farm as well as regular volunteers and gardeners who manage a range of community gardens and any excess food grown and not distributed through its regular outlets, was donated to food banks. Excess food was also delivered to families in need during school holidays.  Another project was Animal Therapy, whereby staff of the Farm take goats into care homes.

 

 

6.6

Sue Pearson stated that Heeley City Farm had been established for 40 last years and felt lucky that, during the pandemic, managing farms, local care, looking after animals etc. was protected so the farm had  been able to carry on working.  She said the farm aligns with people living areas of deprivation by improving their mental health and wellbeing, as well as people from other countries who, until they had settled status, needed something to do, something to occupy them, to feel engaged and activities at the Farm offered that. She said that there were 45 workers at the farm as well as regular volunteers and gardeners who manage a range of community gardens  and any excess food grown and not distributed through its regular outlets, was donated to food banks. Excess food was also delivered to families in need during school holidays.  Another project was Animal Therapy, whereby staff of the farm take goats into care homes.

 

 

6.7

Amy Simcox stated that her organisation had engaged with service users to find out how green prescribing could help them, to discover what helped them and what was available and one of the outcomes from this was the importance of having nature available on the doorstep. She said it was also important for green spaces to be more easily accessible by public transport.  The Wildlife Trust was engaged in developing hubs and networks and bringing them together so that they could share knowledge and develop the green prescribing initiative.  Ms. Simcox outlined projects that were being carried out around Sheffield and Rotherham using Lottery Funding and she gave instances of how these projects were benefitting people, by making small changes to their lives and connecting them with other people had a huge impact on them.

 

 

6.8

Members made various comments and asked a number of questions, to which responses were provided as follows:-

 

 

 

·                Sheffield Parks, Woodlands and Countryside Service had a number of Land Managers and Blue Space Managers within the city, looking after and developing land space, green space, hubs, sports centres, all of which required toilet facilities and defibrillators, for which some public health funding had been received.  He referred to the Better Parks Programme which it was hoped would be able to provide better facilities and concession rates in park cafes.  It was acknowledged that due to the natural landscape of the city, it was difficult for all areas to be accessible to all, but technology was having an impact through the introduction of adapted bikes and scooters at some locations.

 

 

 

·                Heeley City Farm boasted a dementia garden and the footpaths have been widened to make the garden more accessible for wheelchair users. 

 

 

 

·                Communities in the north-west of the city were engaging in activities to provide funding to purchase defibrillators and make them more readily available.

 

 

 

·                Access to open water swimming was an ongoing conversation mainly due to health and safety.  Open swimming used to be available in the lidos at Longley Park and Millhouses Park but these were now closed to the public.   The Parks, Woodlands and Countryside Service received annual requests for Crookes Valley Park to be used for open swimming but that was not possible due to risk and capacity. Last year, Yorkshire Water had one tragedy by someone swimming in one of its reservoirs in North Yorkshire, so it was now having to deploy security guards in an attempt to stop members of the public swimming in its reservoirs.  Swimming in cold water was a very emotive subject due to the dangers around it, but risks could be addressed through education.  It was acknowledged that there was a desire nationally to enable people to swim in open water, but due to the many risks around it, there was no easy solution.

 

 

 

·                In order to create open networks, the City Council was working with the Integrated Care System (ICS) in an attempt to use the NHS funding as a launchpad to pull in other investment for green prescribing, but there was no clarity on whether there would be extension to funding.  It was clear that stop/start funding was not the way forward, the Council needed to find the best way to build and invest in green prescribing.

 

 

 

·                With regard to the infrastructure, Covid had shown the need for green space and connectivity.  One of the problems faced by people was that once in green spaces, what do we do when we get there, how do we know what to do or where to go.  The City Council had been in discussions with the City Region, and whilst transport planners were working very hard to improve transport links into the city, there was also the need for better transport links for people to access open spaces.

 

 

 

·                Last summer, the local authority had the perfect opportunity to deliver outside activities and one of the most oversubscribed events was tree climbing and there was a need to develop connecting to nature events in the city.

 

 

 

·                There was a strong drive in Public Health to create more holiday activities for schoolchildren and also to encourage more school gardens and investigate ways of preventing the produce dying when schools were closed. 

 

 

 

·                People Keeping Well (PKW) was a community-based prevention activity that can help to prevent and delay people needing to access health and social care services.  The PKW Partnerships met regularly to consider how they could work together to support the community to live well and tackle local issues. Each partnership was led by a local voluntary sector organisation such as ZEST in Stannington, the Stocksbridge Leisure Centre Age UK, SOAR, Manor and Castle Development Trust, Heeley City Farm, Reach South Sheffield and the Woodhouse and District Community Forum.  In the High Green/Chapeltown area, projects were being undertaken alongside the Parish Councils with structured activities being carried out.  Active Travel Sheffield was encouraging people to walk more.  The Council was happy to bring its partners to Local Area Committee meetings to give more details of activities available in all areas of the city.

 

 

 

·                All activities haven’t rolled out everywhere, there was a need for more signposting to build relationships and networks.  The City Council does fund according to deprivation levels due to not all areas having the same opportunities.

 

 

 

·                As part of the ICS funding, the Wildlife Trust was exploring ways to strengthen what was already in place. 

 

 

 

·                The ability to use an online directory was not always the answer as some people were digitally excluded and as there was an overkill of printed information, there was a need to co-ordinate all the guides together.  AS Sheffield was lucky to have so much green space, the Sheffield Wildlife Trust was planning to have a comprehensive guide available by March, 2022.

 

 

 

·                There were 65 “Friends of” groups across the city who were keen to look after green and open spaces but who may not want to be totally inclusive in getting other people engaged and involved in similar activities due to the nature and diversity of what people enjoy and want to do.  With the nature emergency in the city, the City Council, by working together with the many voluntary organisations within the city, were hoping to help and educate people to connect with the natural world through nature-based activities, and to learn to value, protect and enhance green and open spaces and the environment.

 

 

6.9

RESOLVED: That the Committee:-

 

 

 

(a)      thanks Lewis Bowman, Jon Dallow, Emma Dickinson, Sue Pearson, and Amy Simcox for attending the meeting; and

 

 

 

(b)      notes the contents of the report and responses to the questions raised.

 

 

 

Supporting documents: