Healthcare professionals from Richmondshire and Hambleton have taken part in a novel training session on RSPB Nature Prescriptions.

Six NHS staff gathered at Glebe House Surgery in Bedale recently for a two-hour workshop delivered by the National Park Authority in partnership with the RSPB.

The session introduced a new calendar which can be given to patients to improve their wellbeing through strengthening their connection to nature.

It has the title "Here is your nature prescription" and offers suggestions such as noticing the colours, smells, shapes and sounds in a local park – or in the National Park – and that was tried out by the group in Bedale.

Janet Clapham, advanced first contact mental health practitioner at Glebe House Surgery, said: “I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how much it will fit in day-to-day with what we do and the patients that I see every day.

“For example those people who have been struggling for some time with depression, and we may have to look at them being signed off for work, it gives them a sense of purpose to reconnect with their local community or garden or green space. A nature prescription, in a way, gives them permission to think about themselves for a while.

“Another example might be someone who is lonely, really socially isolated – and they don’t want to go out in busy places – this gives them some lovely examples of how they can reconnect.”

Mrs Clapham said she sees about 40 to 50 people a week in the surgery and that she could envisage giving an RSPB Nature Prescription to about one in ten of them.

“There are lots of inspirational options in the calendar about what they can do, which they might not have thought about, or thought could be beneficial," she said. "It’s not a have to, it’s an if you want to.”

The RSPB Nature Prescriptions project began as a collaboration between the RSPB and doctors in Shetland in 2018. A pilot scheme was subsequently run in Edinburgh. Now the RSPB is working in partnership with the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority and North York Moors National Park Authority to help improve the health and wellbeing of people and communities from Whitby to Wensleydale.

Kiri Wood, Education, engagement and wellbeing manager at the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority, said: “It is great that health practitioners in Richmondshire and Hambleton are keen to support their patients with an RSPB Nature Prescription. The calendar gives people ideas on how to connect with and support nature each month. Each month there is also a suggestion of somewhere to visit in the National Park.”