Nature Buddies programme across Dorset, empowering healthcare providers to support communities through green social prescribing

  • Nature focused project to support Dorset communities
  • 30 trained Nature Buddies; six providers signed up to the Nature Buddies networks; and 30 nature-inspired arts activities to 150 community groups  
  • Opportunity for connection and community through green social prescribing 

Nature Buddies is a Dorset based project that has been awarded funding from the Thriving Communities Fund to embed green social prescribing in health care. It will address some of the inequalities faced by the local communities, which have been exacerbated by COVID-19 and the pandemic, and improve the health of local people through a range of activities spanning arts, physical wellbeing, and support. 


The project has a bold vision with extensive reach. Outputs include a co-produced training programme for 100 link workers; a toolkit to enable similar initiatives and other regions to embed social prescribing; 30 trained Nature Buddies; six providers signed up to the Nature Buddies networks; and 30 nature-inspired activities to 150 community groups. Working with Primary Care Networks (PCNsand Social Care organisations they will develop and deliver a Nature Buddies Volunteer Network supporting those with anxiety/low confidence, providing initial help to attend activities, with further activities signposting. 


“We know that access to nature can be a lifeline for individuals and communities. Our varied programme of nature-based activities, delivered Dorset wide, will see people benefit from green social prescribing. We are delighted that this funding will help us extend our reach and support some of the most vulnerable in our local area,” says Julie Hammon from Stepping Into Nature. 


The project aims to provide online or face-to-face learning and info on benefits of nature, arts and physical activity for wellbeing. It will work with community organisations Dorset Community Action and Community Action Network to identify 150 community groups to receive training, taster sessions and support towards becoming more inclusive. This will see them increase knowledge and networking for link workers, enabling them to communicate more efficiently with communities about what is available, including benefits of participation on wellbeing. 


The pandemic has affected communities, isolating people from family, friends, activities that previously supported them. The impact of nature and participation in arts or physical activities on wellbeing has never been so important. Dorset has been significantly affected, with existing inequalities exacerbated. 


Nature Buddies is being led by The Arts Development Company a Social Enterprise and Community Interest Company. Partners include Help and Care, a registered charity that works with older people, carers and communities to live the life they choose. The project builds on Dorset AONB Stepping into Nature project funded by the National Community Lottery Fund, who use Dorset’s natural and cultural landscape to provide activities and sensory rich places for older adults, including those living with long term health conditions, such as dementia, and their care partners. Active Dorset work through a system change approach so increased numbers of people are supported to become more physically active. They are one of 43 Active Partnerships working to create the conditions for an active nation and use the power of sport and physical activity to transform lives. 


Nature Buddies will empower healthcare providers to support communities, in a way that has long lasting impact on individuals and society. 




For the full list of partners, projects and funding visit  

Thriving Communities Funded Project

Ideas Hub

Published 18th March 2021

Jo March 

Project Manager (Arts, Health and Wellbeing) 

The Arts Development Company