Eden Project, Cornwall
The Eden Project partnered with its local primary health care service, St Austell Healthcare in 2016 to launch a social prescribing programme, Nature’s Way. The service enables GPs, nurses and other healthcare professionals to refer people to a range of local, non-clinical services to meet a range of healthcare needs. As part of their prescription to Eden patients with diabetes, COPD or cardiac conditions receive a dose of weekly walking. Eden runs four weekly therapeutic horticulture programmes for people with anxiety and depression and for young people who are NEET or excluded from school which run for a period of 12 months on a rolling programme. It is also about to launch a drop in garden for clients who want to continue after a year. One patient with exhaustion, depression, PTSD, anxiety and panic attacks said: "I was very anxious and frightened at first, but found everyone in the group was essentially in the same place. I'm making new friends. I have learned new skills and gained new horticultural and environmental knowledge, and found myself being able to teach this to others. I have also been able to volunteer on another outdoor project at Eden."
Local people aged over 65s at risk of loneliness and isolation are prescribed Eden’s weekly walk and talk lunch club. The Cornwall botanic garden now has 120 walkers registered to Nature’s Walk in three groups led by more than 20 volunteer leaders, most of whom joined as patients and were trained to lead the groups. One patient, Anne, in the cardiac walking group, said the groups "are very well organised with the staff and volunteers being helpful, approachable, cheerful, and empathetic to each person's situation". Harry, an Eden Walk and Talk Lunch Club member said the sessions were the highlight of his week. Most members are in their 80s and 90s. "It boosts me to get out the house and see others. I always come away feeling happy and relaxed," he said.
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