The Mersey Forest has helped nearly 40 community groups to deliver health and wellbeing benefits to people across Liverpool, as part of the Natural Choices for Health and Wellbeing project.
Thirty-eight groups were successful in securing funding from the Natural Choices for Health and Wellbeing Grant, funded by Liverpool PCT as part of the Decade of Health and Wellbeing. The grant provided support for projects in Liverpool that could demonstrate that they both:
There is an established link between good health and green spaces. Keeping active makes people fit and healthy, while taking in green spaces has been proven to improve mental wellbeing. Almost £300,000 of funding was directed to 38 community groups, enabling them to develop, grow and use the green spaces in their area to produce tangible health benefits for local residents.
The projects funded by this programme have addressed a range of issues at the grassroots level – from teaching people with learning disabilities to grow fresh fruit and vegetables, to creating community gardens for vulnerable people to enjoy, to protecting and maintaining local woodlands.
The groups all documented their progress, blogging about their community events on green social network Project Dirt.
The University of Essex undertook a full evaluation of the process to both establish how effective the overall programme has been at improving participants' health and wellbeing, and to inform future health planning. The study found that the wellbeing of those involved increased by 18% and that 80% of the projects involved in the programme reported increased physical activity among their achievements.
This project is included as a case study in The Mersey Forest Plan.