09/03/2022 How rejuvenating heritage can be a social prescribing opportunity

Guildford High Street in Surry on a busy day with rolling hills in the background
Breathing new life into our high streets

I am working with the National Academy for Social Prescribing to find the best ways to utilise the power of heritage for wellbeing, in my role as NASP’s national lead for the historic environment.

This builds on Historic England’s work to incorporate wellbeing into existing projects. For example, Our Heritage Action Zones (HAZ) scheme works in partnership with local authorities, local people and other partners, and aims to restore and renovate historic places that are rich in heritage and full of potential – making them more useful and attractive to residents, businesses, tourists and investors. The High Street Heritage Action Zones benefited from a £95 million government fund, which is delivered by Historic England to renovate, repurpose and revitalise our high streets in target areas. These programmes have the potential to incorporate social prescribing by linking people interested in resurrecting the character of their local areas and making them flourish again through participating in the community engagement projects.

On top of this, the Government’s £1.57 billion Cultural Recovery Fund will help breathe new life into our most loved arts organisations,heritage sites and  historic high streets, fuelling economic, social and cultural recovery. It will enable the High Street Heritage Action Zones to deliver cultural programmes which will give even more opportunities for connecting people and places. There will be a plethora of local events and initiatives, driven by the needs and interests of the people living in those areas. We are working on creating practical partnerships between the local link workers and NASP’s and Historic England’s regional teams so that individuals and communities can become part of these programmes on a social prescription.

At NASP, we are building on this momentum through the Thriving Communities programme. Historic England are also part of the partnership supporting the Thriving Communities Fund, bringing the powers of art, heritage, nature, sport and financial advice together. Help us build the social prescribing network that we all need – one day, it may well be another part of our nation’s heritage!

Find out more on Historic England’s website – Heritage & Wellbeing.


Dr Desi Gradinarova is the Senior Policy Adviser for Wellbeing and Inclusion at Historic England and National Lead for the Historic Environment at National Academy for Social Prescribing. 

Read Desi’s earlier blogs in this series
Dr Desi Gradinarova

Dr Desi Gradinarova


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