Northampton's Delapre Abbey leads the way in improving the health of thousands of people

Medical experts reveal of funding is being used to get people out enjoying nature
The Thriving Communities Fund focused on helping communities cope with the impact of COVID-19The Thriving Communities Fund focused on helping communities cope with the impact of COVID-19
The Thriving Communities Fund focused on helping communities cope with the impact of COVID-19

Northamptonshire’s nature-based wellbeing programme is picking up pace this month – with the health of up to 3,000 people set to be improved and enhanced.

Earlier this year £50,000 from the Thriving Communities Fund, made possible thanks to Arts Council England, the National Academy for Social Prescribing and partners, was awarded to the Northamptonshire nature-based wellbeing programme – with the funding focused firmly on helping communities cope with the impact of COVID-19.

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The wellbeing programme’s lead organisation is Delapré Abbey Preservation Trust, supported by partners General Practice Alliance Federation, Northampton Leisure Trust, Northamptonshire Sport, University of Northampton, Action for Happiness Northamptonshire, and Warts and All Theatre.

Dr David Smart, clinical director of General Practice Alliance and Delapré Abbey Preservation Trust trustee, explained: “This funding has enabled us to bring partners together with our local social prescribing services to develop a wellbeing programme, with a range of new activities building on those already taking place in the beautiful grounds of the Abbey.

“The term we use is ‘green social prescribing’, which simply means supporting people to improve their health and wellbeing by engaging in nature-based activities such as walking, cycling, photography, art, community gardening and food-growing projects. Being outside in green space helps our wellbeing especially if we stop and notice what is around us.

“COVID has in particular has revealed inequalities that need addressing. Our programme is set to reach and improve the health of up to 3000 people through arts, culture, and physical activities, connecting more people with nature and heritage, post-lockdown and for years to come.”

Pilot activities include:

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* A programme of wellbeing workshops, including Creative wellbeing workshops on October 17th

* A new signposted 3km walking route through the grounds of Delapré Abbey, designed to increase walking and improve the physical activity and wellbeing of people in the community.

* A 10-week ‘Couch to 5k’ programme, led by Northamptonshire Sport. Coaching sessions take place every Monday at 2pm and will finish on December 6th. The aim is that participants will then be able to join the Northampton Park Run as a group the following Saturday

Mindful walking events are due to take place in November (booking will be open soon) and a new Wellbeing Programme website is now in design.

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“This programme is all about empowering the people of Northamptonshire to have control over their mental and physical health and wellbeing. More events and activities will continue to be unveiled, with the theme of ‘co-creation’ at the core. This means the programme will continue to be shaped by the very people using and benefiting from these activities.

This Northamptonshire wellbeing programme has been based on the Action for Happiness’ ‘Ten Keys to Happier Living’. Its goal is to reach up to 3,000 people, improving people’s health and reducing the need for medical support and intervention.

Stuart Mallett, NHCP Health & Wellbeing Programme SRO, added: “The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of the outdoors to Northampton people's mental and physical health and wellbeing, as well as a significant inequality of access to green spaces. The Delapré initiative is a significant step in making a reality of green social prescribing in our county and a great addition to our development of valuable community assets. ”