The Wildlife Trusts welcome the Government’s new strategy to tackle loneliness, and the recognition that not only are rural and urban natural spaces highly beneficial to health and wellbeing, but they also have a strong role to play in bringing people together across communities. We also welcome the Government’s commitment to develop policies that empower local people and groups to use the natural environment to help tackle loneliness and foster community participation and cohesion. The Wildlife Trusts help people across society every day, to connect with each other and the natural environment – read how nature can help people experiencing loneliness
It is particularly pleasing to see the Prime Minister commit to helping all GPs in England to have the ability to refer patients experiencing loneliness to community activities by 2023. The Wildlife Trusts strongly support this move, and have many successful examples of involving people in activities that prevent them from needing more costly services. We hope that the Government continues to show leadership in this area and extends the availability of nature-based approaches like social prescribing to include those with poor mental health.
Whilst there is a pledge of additional funding to transform underutilised areas, into thriving community spaces, it is just as important to ensure that voluntary and community sector organisations are properly funded to support the people who are referred to activities via their GP or health service. That way, we can continue to help and relieve the burden on traditional health and care services, by bringing more people together and connecting them to positive opportunities, and the healing power of nature.