East Anglian based charity Green Light Trust (GLT) and family-owned garden retailer Notcutts have announced an ongoing corporate partnership. The new partnership will focus on highlighting the benefits of access to green space and how it improves wellbeing for all.
The first initiative of the new partnership will be the funding of a major new piece of research. Under the auspices of the University of Essex, the two-year project will examine why woodland settings have an impact on wellbeing and discover the contributory factors that make the most difference. Is it just being in a woodland environment or is it the activities which take place in woodland settings which have the most efficacy?
This research will study GLT programmes and examine which activities have the most impact on the wellbeing of participants, from woodland conservation to green working through to nature walks and sitting around the campfire relaxing in a group. Previous research undertaken by the University of Essex in 2020 demonstrated that participants derive huge benefits from being part of a GLT programme. Intervention through the Trust’s programmes (as measured on Rosenberg’s self-esteem scale) showed an improvement of over 1.4 on the 10-point scale. This is a huge improvement when one considers that significant life events, such as a marriage, the birth of a child, divorce or unemployment, have an impact of +/- 0.6.
It has long been known that nature-based interventions can have a major impact on improving health, longevity, and perceived wellbeing. GLT was further able to show demonstrable and measurable benefits in attendees’ wellbeing and life choices through qualitative data in terms of participants moving on from attending GLT courses to returning into full time education or employment. It is testament of the impact of GLT’s success to date that 18% of the current cohort of employees and volunteers are past participants.
Caroline Notcutt, vice chairman, Notcutts, says: “We know that huge benefits are derived from being outside in a green space. The NHS has prescribed gardening since 2019 to improve wellbeing and fitness levels, and research suggests that being able to see green space can even reduce recuperation time in hospital. At Notcutts, as part of our corporate partnership with GLT, we are delighted to fund this important piece of research which we hope will take our understanding and the efficacy of green care so much further.
“In this, our 125th anniversary year, such research will serve as a lasting legacy by improving our understanding of the benefits of meaningful activity conducted in a green space. This is something which our original founders, who were as passionate about the benefits that can be derived from the natural environment as the current team at Notcutts, would really embrace.”
Tom Brown, CEO, GLT, says: “We are delighted that Notcutts has come onboard as a corporate partner. This first joint piece of work will help with our understanding on why some activities that we deliver in woodland settings work better than others. We hope that the results will provide the basis for a plan which can be rolled out UK wide to improve the nation’s mental health and physical wellbeing. Non communicable diseases already account for 50% of UK deaths. If this research can provide a blueprint for preventative interventions, the benefits to individuals, society and the public purse would be immense.”
In addition to the research, the new partnership arrangement will encourage the Notcutts team to volunteer at GLT sites and help with conservation projects such as tree planting and woodland management as well as engaging in various fund-raising activities. GLT will benefit from Notcutts colleagues with their years of horticultural advice on planting the GLT vegetable garden as well as Notcutts providing taster days for GLT participants as they move on in their recovery journeys into potentially considering a career in horticulture.
 Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020