Developing Your Park and Green Spaces Health Strategy
Parks and Green Spaces can be seen as a cost, or be valued for their contribution to the health and wellbeing of society. It is a surprise to many that the Total Economic Value to an individual from the use of a local park is £3.24 p.a; £32.4 Billion for the entire UK population in Wellbeing Value. In addition Parks and Green Spaces have been estimated to save the NHS c £111 Million per year (Fields in Trust). Many communities in our cities suffer from high levels of avoidable ill-health, including non-communicative diseases, mental illness; depression anxiety and stress. Extensive research has demonstrated that reduced access to green space can exacerbate such conditions, whilst health benefits have been associated with the presence and use of Parks and Green Spaces. In addition, Parks and Green Spaces also have a substantial contribution to make in the mitigation of impacts related to pollution, flooding, temperature extremes and UV radiation; each of which also has a bearing upon health. Using the Parks for Health Toolkit, the resulting Health Assessments, and the development of a Parks Health Strategy, opens the way to the development of health promoting Green Spaces. In addition to reducing personal suffering, such improvements will also help reduce the future cost of clinical treatment, Adult and Social Care, and Mental Health Services.
The Parks and Green Space Health Framework
The Parks and Green Spaces Framework allows a holistic approach to creating healthy communities. Set within the context of Primary Prevention, this initiative provides practical solutions for improvements to Green Spaces in the urban realm. Furthermore, it links the quality and use of Park to Public Health, Social Prescribing, Wellness at Work and community-based health initiatives, potentially opening up a range of new funding sources for Parks and Green Spaces.
The Parks for Health Toolkit
A detailed review of research has identified key elements which have a bearing upon health and wellbeing; Community Initiatives, Accessibility, Mental Wellbeing, Physical Activity and Environment & Biodiversity. Based upon that review, the Parks for Health Toolkit has been created by Tisdall Associates. It is an easy to use, online, evidence-based assessment model which identifies the current and potential health status of Parks and Green Spaces. It indicates strengths and weaknesses against these 5 Primary Health Criteria, 17 Secondary Health Criteria and within some 85 elements and features within the Park. The shorter Free Survey gives you an indication of the assessment process and delivers a report with charts showing the current health status of a Park, and the potential for improvement across each of the primary health criteria.
Multiple Park Analysis
Where participants need to identify the health status of Parks across a City, Town, Ward or Community, assessments provide data which can be analysed through the Multiple Park Analysis. The results provide data for each individual Park or Green Space, and an overview of the health status of Parks in that wider area. It identifies Parks which lie above and below an average, it highlights specific strengths and weaknesses in each of the health criteria, along with practical interventions, and it can compare this to differences within and between Wards or wider communities. The Multiple Park Analysis identifies variations in the quality of Parks across the region, and can be used to link these to medical conditions ,health inequalities, deprivation or other determinants to allow population-wide interventions to be developed to help address these conditions across these communities.
Parks make a significant contribution to health and wellbeing. By strengthening the health status of each Park and increasing the active use of these spaces, it will be possible to reduce personal suffering caused by avoidable ill-health, and to reduce the cost of associated medication, Adult and Social Care and Mental Illness. Working in partnership with Public Health, Social Prescribers and community groups, The Parks for Health Initiative opens new opportunities for those committed to and responsible for the health and wellbeing of the public, to integrate the benefits of Parks and Green Spaces into Health Promotion, and the prevention and treatment of avoidable ill-health.
The Parks for Health Framework and Parks for Health Toolkit provide a mechanism to deliver on such benefits. Click here to try it now!