Sow the City participants
Sow the City participants, who worked with Cornbrook Medical Practice in central Manchester to develop their grounds into an engaging space for growing, wildlife and relaxation.

Organisations across Greater Manchester are being encouraged to come together to submit bids for local funding after the region secured £500,000 government funding for green social prescribing to improve the region’s mental health.

Green social prescribing connects people with nature-based activities such as walking and cycling, community gardening and food-growing projects, as well as tasks such as tree planting.

The funding announcement comes as the Greater Manchester Mental Wellbeing Conversation Survey showed that people rated their current mental wellbeing poorly. On a scale of one to 10, people rated (on average) their happiness as 5.2, life satisfaction as 5.1 and anxiety as 5.6. When asked what would make their local area a place for positive wellbeing, one-third of the 4,000 GM residents who responded said that the most useful thing for their mental wellbeing is green open space.

Greater Manchester will be building on this need to improve our connection with, and access to, the natural world through two strands of work:

  1. Test and learn sites – funding is available for three to five ‘places’ across the region to pilot schemes that link people to green activities, and share their learning regionally and nationally. Applications for the local funding need to be voluntary, community and social enterprise (VCSE) led, with partners including grass roots organisations. They should focus on those communities hardest hit by the pandemic and work at a local ‘place’ level.
  2. Region-wide initiatives – such as developing training and resources to help build momentum across all boroughs. Local organisations can also bid for this work. They must demonstrate how they will work in partnership across the region.

Giles Wilmore Associate Lead for People and Communities, Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership, said:

“One of the many things the pandemic has taught us is that access to, and use of, green space is hugely important to our health and wellbeing. COVID-19 has also exacerbated mental illness and inequalities such as access to green space.”

“This funding boost will enable green providers, social prescribers, voluntary organisations and community initiatives to come together with health, social care and public health to ‘test and learn’ together. As we emerge from the pandemic, we want to build back better to ensure our health and care system makes better use of our natural environment. We hope the project will provide long-term benefits to the people of Greater Manchester and beyond.”

Stewart Lucas, Mind’s Strategic Lead in Greater Manchester and co-lead of the voluntary, community and social enterprise (VCSE) Mental Health leadership Group, said:

“The use of green space has been proven time and time again to be a highly beneficial tool for self-managing a mental health condition. This could be joining a walking group, growing vegetables at a community allotment or simply getting away from it all in Greater Manchester’s vibrant and varied wood and park land. We’re excited to be able to explore how we can grow and develop these opportunities, so those communities hardest hit by the pandemic can equally access the benefits of the natural world. We believe a resurgence in the provision and use of parks, nature reserves and green spaces across the region will have a direct benefit on the mental health of every Mancunian.”

Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester said:

“The last year has shown just how important it is for people to have access to the natural environment.

“We have seen more and more people enjoying the amazing green spaces and parks that Greater Manchester has to offer. We’ve also seen big increases in walking and cycling as we build the UK’s largest joined-up cycling and walking network.

“But we know there’s much to more to do. This funding will help our voluntary, community and social enterprise sector to continue to deliver diverse and inclusive nature-based activity and it will support our thriving social prescribing system to reach even more of our population.

“Greater Manchester’s ambition is not only to build back better after COVID-19, but to build back greener.”

In 2019, Greater Manchester launched its Five-Year Environment Plan setting out an ambitious vision to protect, maintain and enhance our natural assets and the multiple benefits they provide. Green social prescribing will support the region to work with nature to increase the many and varied benefits our environment, wildlife and ecosystems provide to our economy, livelihood and health.

Partnerships interested in completing an application can find more information below:

Applications will need to be emailed to by 5pm on 26 February 2021. Applications will be assessed by a selection panel and notified of the outcome on 11 March.

A Green Social Prescribing Programme Manager is being recruited to manage this work. The application pack with full details can be viewed and downloaded.


For more information, please email



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