A small team of Volunteers – led by the Active Wellbeing Society – have been transforming the garden at a Birmingham GP’s surgery – so much so it’s being entered into Acock’s Green in Bloom! The garden has gone from overgrown and neglected, to cultivated, with raised vegetable beds, planters, a lot less weeds, and an impressive arch paid for with funds kindly donated by Asda. The team of patient volunteers meet once a week with a member of the Grow and Connect team at the Victoria Road surgery, as part of the Green Social Prescribing scheme originally set up by one of the link workers there.

The transformation of the garden has been beneficial to patients and staff, and it’s now a great space to spend time in. The surgery says the positive benefits are far greater than anything available on prescription – with being outside and taking part in mindful activities being particularly beneficial to mental health. This year the hard work is really paying off and the garden’s being included on the official Acock’s Green in Bloom judging route this July.

Here's what the group have had to say:

“It gets me to interact with other people instead of isolating myself like I was before, and I get to learn how to do some gardening which I’ve really enjoyed.”                    

“I like the social aspect of the group. Due to my ex-addiction, I isolated myself from people and anything creative. I’ve never really been any good at gardening. I like the fact that I can learn more and am looking forward to growing produce and beautiful flowers.”                       

“I enjoy the physical side of it – I need the exercise. I walk here and if the weather is good, I’ll be gardening outside. I like the social aspect. Everyone here is lovely.”

Green Social Prescribing encourages people to engage in nature-based interventions to improve their physical and mental health, overcome the barriers they may face accessing green spaces and reduces inequalities. It has a key role to play in prevention and self-care, promoting nature, connection and time spent in green and blue spaces. We hope this project will inspire other link workers to do the same at other GP practices across the city, and even the country.

Najira Khanam at [email protected] 

About The Active Wellbeing Society:

The Active Wellbeing Society (TAWS) is a community benefit society working to build healthy, happy communities living active and connected lives in Birmingham, the Midlands and across the UK by tackling inequalities and promoting community wellbeing. For more information, visit https://theaws.co.uk/