We believe that being in and around the natural environment, and giving people social shared experiences, provides us with the basis to improve our health and wellbeing. That’s why we’re running several ‘social prescribing’ projects.

What is social prescribing?

Social prescribing enables GPs to refer patients with medical, social, emotional or practical needs to a range of local, non-clinical services such as exercise programmes, social clubs and nature-based activities – in the same way they would prescribe a drug, or refer a patient to a hospital.

Whatever the activity, they can give people new life opportunities, help them form new relationships, be creative and increase their activity levels. Social prescribing also empowers people to take responsibility for their own health and wellbeing, and gives them a choice about their treatment – finding activities that work for them.

Given that in 2016 approximately two-thirds of the Department of Health budget was being spent on secondary care services, such as mental health services, and treating conditions such as Type 2 Diabetes, cardiovascular disease and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), social prescribing makes economic sense too.

Eden’s ‘prescriptions’

Walking groups

Building on the success of our COPD walking group, we are now also running a walking group for people with diabetes. We walk all over the Eden site with walks for different abilities. The physical benefits of walking are numerous, including improved heart health, lowering blood pressure, increasing cardiovascular conditioning and improved muscle tone and strength. It also increases metabolism and burns calories. But there are social benefits too. Most of the group would say that they wouldn’t walk alone.

"It helps me get out of bed in the morning and do it... And that’s not easy, as a doctor prescribes fitness but, actually, he can’t force you to do it." David, diabetes walk leader (and diabetic)

“The best part of this group is you’re all the same, so you’re not frightened of trying to do the work, because you know that the people around you are all dealing with the same sort of thing.” 
Ray, COPD walking group

Eden Lunch Club

It is said that isolation is a bigger risk factor among older people than obesity or physical inactivity. We are piloting a weekly lunch club for local older people. Most of our members are in their 80s, and have a range of conditions that leave them housebound – from severe mobility impairments to deafblindness – or simply lack access to affordable transport. We invite them on a short walk and then have lunch in one of our onsite cafes. We’re delighted that some of the lunch club members have started to talk about meeting together at other times.

Horticulture therapy 

This weekly programme offers people living with mental ill health the opportunity to develop a range of horticultural skills in Eden’s gardens and wider estate. The group is learning techniques such as plant care through to more practical and creative things like building raised beds or willow weaving. Whatever the activity, the aim is to develop a sense of value in participants, often lost during periods of mental ill health, increase independence and confidence, and improve their ability to plan and to adapt to issues. The garden also yields produce for harvest, providing the opportunity to cook, eat and socialise together.

How to get involved

If you know a friend or family member that could benefit from these activities, please contact Heidi Morgan on 01726 818550, 07817 875165 or hmorgan@edenproject.com

European Social Fund Living Well to Work Programme 

We are also piloting a European Social Fund Living Well to Work programme that will allow us to support a number of unemployed members of the diabetes and the horticultural therapy groups. This is designed to give them an opportunity to develop their skills, build their confidence, access education, training and volunteering opportunities, and move towards employment.