In 2015 the Creative Wellbeing project was developed by Dr Michelle Howarth & Dr Mike Hardman through the recognition of common research in the use of Therapeutic Horticulture and links between health and environmental sciences between the School of Nursing, Midwifery, Social Work and Social Sciences and Environmental Life Sciences. The group offers a range of professional expertise to engage with partners in the local area to support the development of the community through creative projects, education and research to enhance health and wellbeing. The team actively explore creative ways to develop research about the impact of green spaces on health and wellbeing.
The overarching aim is to evaluate the impact of Pocket Parks on health, wellbeing and social inclusion using three key aims:
There is a growing emphasis accredited to green space for improvement in health and wellbeing (Kesslel et al 2008). Adjunct to this, contemporary data suggests that there has also been a marked increase in the number of people living in urban areas, which has had repercussions on the health and well-being of the general population due to factors such as environmental pollution (Frumkin 2001). The potential for green spaces to influence health and wellbeing has been increasingly researched and the evidence base suggests that green care can help.
In 2016, the DCLG funded a total of 87 pocket parks across the UK to support community engagements in the development of a disused or derelict site within an area of deprivation. Green Spaces have been defined by Kaczynski et al (2007) as “open, undeveloped land with natural vegetation”. Pocket parks as defined by DCLG (2015) “small areas of inviting public space where people can enjoy relief from the hustle and bustle of city streets”.
For the purposes of this scheme we have adopted the definition of a pocket park used by the Mayor of London:
They are considered to be innovative approach that can provide alternative methods to support the health and wellbeing of the community and as such can be regarded as ‘Green Care’. Green space is thought to be an under-recognised method to engage people in communities to become more active. Barbosa et al report that the role that green spaces play in supporting urban social systems has been recognised in policy both within the UK and Europe. Equally, the potential for green space to enhance wellbeing has been recognised and NHS England is now promoting access to non-clinical interventions from voluntary services and community groups. Interest in these green spaces has grown as they present a realistic method with which to engage with communities to support the wellbeing of those in deprived areas. Pocket Parks may be considered as one intervention that could be promoted under the ‘Green Prescription’ (doses of nature tailored to patients’ needs) in the context of social prescribing.