Chichester hosts national seminar to demand Government takes urgent action on Green Care pledge

A one-day conference, ‘Propagating Green Therapies in the UK: Joining the Dots’, will see doctors, health care professionals and the Chair of the Commons Health and Social Care Committee, Steve Brine gather in Southbourne, near Chichester to urge the Government to ensure Green Care is properly funded and available to all.
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In July 2020, Environment Secretary, George Eustice announced a new £4 million investment for a cross-government project aimed at ‘preventing and tackling mental ill health through green social prescribing’. In the same year a report published by Natural England, the government’s environmental advisory group, promised: ‘The time for action is now. The ability to make a difference is within our grasp along with the public’s growing reconnection with nature for health and wellbeing.’

However, many advocates claim little action has been taken to recognise the delivery of green care initiatives, such as Social and Therapeutic Horticulture (STH). The gardening for health charity Thrive, is determined to lead the way. Its CEO Kathryn Rossiter chairs the Green Care Coalition and the Therapeutic Horticulture Stakeholder group. She said: “The NHS does not recognise STH practitioners, so doesn’t fund their work. What we need is a call for action, which builds on all the research for STH to be written into full NHS plans.”

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Dr Richard Claxton who initiated the conference will be giving a keynote speech on a ‘GPs perspective.’ A keen gardener with a practice in Tunbridge Wells, he has long advocated the benefits of gardening and nature-based activities to his patients: “Social prescribing is booming and actively encouraged by the UK Government, but there’s a lack of coordination and publicising of the available services.”

Dr Richard Claxton, outside his surgery at Tunbridge Wells Dr Richard Claxton, outside his surgery at Tunbridge Wells
Dr Richard Claxton, outside his surgery at Tunbridge Wells

Mrs Rossiter said by bringing visionaries in the Green Care sector together would not only celebrate their success but drive forward a campaign for formal recognition: “We need a wider availability of therapeutic horticulture, the professionalisation of the sector and better coordination of services across the nation, so that anyone, regardless of where they live will have access to STH. Ultimately this is about system change within the NHS.”

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