Our consultations with stakeholders on identifying the types of interventions most likely to practically contribute to wellbeing are drawing to an end. We have now identified five types of action that can improve mental health by making green spaces safer, more accessible and more inclusive, and can enhance users’ engagement with the natural world.
These involve creating new facilities such as toilets and cafes in parks; creating ‘green routes’ linking neighbourhoods with green spaces to encourage access; sustained, regular care and maintenance of public green spaces; parks staff to provide a sense of safety and to facilitate therapeutic activities; and support for voluntary and community organisations to provide activities in green space.
Our work over the coming months will analyse how these interventions act as links between the health-enhancing qualities of natural spaces and the personal circumstances of users. In Work Package 4.2 we will examine the costs and benefits associated with each intervention, while WP4.1 will continue to investigate the decision-making processes involved and how relevant guidance to practitioners can be improved and updated.
These discussions have been informed by a continuing series of stakeholder interviews and focus groups. On 23 July we worked with the Centre for Sustainable Healthcare in Oxford to host a morning workshop with clinicians from a range of specialties and clinical practices from across the south of England.
We are also starting to share emerging findings at relevant academic conferences. Julian Dobson presented a paper on the effects of austerity on park funding at the Park Politics conference in Vienna in June, and Julian and Nicola Dempsey will host a panel at the Royal Geographical Society conference in Cardiff at the end of August. This will include two IWUN papers.