In partnership with Abercynon-based social enterprise, Cynon Valley Organic Adventures, Cardiff University’s Clinical Innovation Accelerator team are delighted showcase their exciting ‘Green Prescribing’ Accelerate project in our latest video case study.
Green Prescribing presents an alternative solution to conventional prescriptions for medical treatment, in which health professionals and other social prescribers encourage individuals to take part in activities within nature, such as gardening, planting and conservation work, to help improve their physical health and mental wellbeing.
Based at their 5-acre community woodland and garden, Cynon Valley Organic Adventures aims to build, evaluate and promote engagement with a resource for green social prescribing. Working in partnership with expert researchers and archaeologists at Cardiff University, they are co-producing and co-creating a pollinator-friendly nature trail, featuring a Roman wellbeing garden, medicinal plants, wildflowers, and an authentic Celtic Roundhosue. Areas will be restored to their historical topography by examining pollen traces.
Building the nature trail provides a unique opportunity to explore how the act of creating such a resource actually facilitates improvements in mental health of participants, through the process of Green Prescribing referrals. This will be done in alliance with the local health board, GPs, link workers and others who influence social prescribing activity in the community.
The Accelerate programme has provided contacts from three universities to help adapt and evolve the enterprise’s methods of measurement in demonstrating the full impact between nature and wellbeing.
Cardiff University staff have lent their time and expertise to make the Green Prescribing project more accessible, educational, and interactive; challenging misrepresentation and providing credible evidence for an emerging topic, where comprehensive research and practical data is relatively scarce.
Funding has also been provided alongside practical support to produce ground-breaking data to aid the progression of other upcoming projects. As a result, Cynon Valley Organic Adventures has been able to link with healthcare clusters in the area to refer individuals to help build up the nature trail and quantify what ‘green health’ means for people and the communities they live in.
Janis Werrett, co-founder of Cynon Valley Organic Adventures:
“On the site we offer alternative Education services, but doctors, health boards, charities, refer people to us for wellbeing. When I took the land on, I was in a bit of a dark place myself, but I discovered that coming in here every day, I began to grow stronger and so I experienced the benefits of nature and well-being myself really.”
It is hoped that through this collaboration, the enterprise can promote wellbeing through education and active engagement, increase awareness of the benefits of green prescribing for the local population and among primary care healthcare professionals in South Cynon, and offer evidence of such success to develop a model that can be implemented throughout Wales. An early indication of its success is winning the coveted accolade of National Lottery Wales Best Project of the Year 2021.
Accelerate is led by Life Sciences Hub Wales, in partnership with Cardiff University, Swansea University and University of Wales Trinity Saint David. The programme offers SMEs and Enterprises in Wales the opportunity to tap into academic expertise, and the latest facilities needed by innovators and entrepreneurs to realise their ideas.
Prof. Les Baillie, Cardiff University said:
“The project here in Abercynon was set up by Janis and colleagues and is a great example of what individuals can do to make a change in their environment. So, projects like Accelerate play a key role in connecting the great idea with the people who have the ability to actually develop that as a product.”
Prof. Kamila Hawthorne, GP at Meddygfa Glan Cynon Surgery:
“We’re really lucky to have this place so close to our practice, and in fact our cluster of practices in the Valley, many of which use this. The few that I have followed appear to be really benefiting from coming here. It looks as if there are benefits, but actually, we really do need a lot more in the way of proper designed research so that we can quantify how much green health does somebody need, how often, all of that kind of thing we don’t really have the answers to.”
The Accelerate programme has now been extended to December 2022. If you would like to find out more about how the programme might be able to support your bright idea or innovation, contact us today via firstname.lastname@example.org.