Health and environment professionals inspired by Being well with nature conference

Benefits to health from the natural environment was the subject of the Greater Lincolnshire Nature Partnership's (GLNP) annual conference.

Representatives from both the health and environmental sectors came together at Bishop Grosseteste University in Lincoln on 9 November to discuss how access to the great outdoors can be good not only for our wellbeing but also provide a better and more cost effective choice for patients and healthcare professionals.

The GLNP's fifth annual conference, entitled Being well with nature, was opened by Stephen Pintus, Director of Public Health in North East Lincolnshire and Interim Director of Public Health in North Lincolnshire.

Mr Pintus said: "The natural environment is a huge resource to tackle mental and emotional distress but we need to level the playing field for the benefit of everyone."

More than 100 delegates from Greater Lincolnshire and further afield attended the conference including a range of health practitioners, environmental organisations, social enterprises and local authorities.

Jane Jobarteh, Health and Wellbeing Manager for Public Health England, East Midlands presented the evidence for health and nature and was followed by Mathew Frith, Director of Conservation at London Wildlife Trust who set out the strategic case for bringing communities and nature closer together.

Two examples of successful projects were then outlined, firstly from Kate Mitchell of Hill Holt Wood whose health programme is helping to deliver mental wellbeing and then by Sue France of the Green Estate – a neighbourhood regeneration programme which helps to make a difference in areas of severe multiple deprivation.

GLNP Chairman, Richard Chadd, said: "The current interest in understanding more about health benefits from the natural environment is evident from the wide range of organisations that were represented at our conference and we have been delighted by the response.

"In terms of patient wellbeing, anecdotal evidence is not enough and it's vital that we can clearly demonstrate the effect that projects such as those outlined can have in making a real difference to people's lives.

"This conference has marked the launch of the GLNP's work on Being well with nature and we now need to continue this momentum to ensure that the value of nature in health and wellbeing in Greater Lincolnshire is recognised."

Key facts and figures

  • An inactive person is likely to spend 37% more time in hospital and visit the doctor 5.5% more often than an active person.
  • In 2007, physical inactivity was estimated to cost the NHS somewhere between £1bn and £1.8bn.
  • Children living in deprived areas are nine times less likely than those living in affluent areas to have access to green space and places to play. Boys living in deprived areas are three times more likely to be obese than boys growing up in affluent areas, while girls are twice as likely.