18/03/2021 Happiness on Prescription- Green Happy Café

Funding from Thriving Communities will enable the development of the first Green Happy café as a wellbeing hub promoting green social prescribing in Northamptonshire.

four people of varying ages walk dogs in a park
Up to 3000 people will benefit from green social prescribing activities at the cafe

Bringing together Delapré Abbey Preservation Trust (DAPT) & Action for Happiness Northamptonshire in partnership, and based on Action for Happiness’ Ten Keys to Happier Living, this project will result in a varied set of activities that brings together both current and emerging social prescribing providers.

“Nature works, and green social prescribing have the power to transform communities affected by COVID-19”, says Richard Clinton from Delapré Abbey Preservation Trust “We’re delighted to receive this funding to establish a green social prescribing hub in a much-loved green space in Northamptonshire. This project will provide greater awareness of green social prescribing, and through a co-creation model deliver a range of activities and programmes with our communities and practitioners. Connecting more people with nature and heritage, post-lockdown and for years to come.”

The programme will focus on embedding arts and culture experiences across several activities; community decision making; volunteering training; social groups to form relationships; variety of exercise classes; mindfulness; skills building; and resilience through talking therapies.

The goal is to reach up to 3000 people, making a significant impact on the health and social care of the population. The programme will increase the health of the town population and reduce healthcare utilisation. There will also be legacy assets, such as green routes, park activities and a wellbeing app. By documenting the learning and development they will show why access to green spaces is so important, and just how it can be used within social prescribing.

The Far-Cotton and Delapré ward in Northamptonshire are among the top 10% most deprived wards in the country and deprivation has a noticeable impact on the life chances of young people and increased health inequalities.

Delapré Park is much loved by the Northampton community, with over 750,000 visits across the year. Centrally located, it is an ideal location for green social prescribing.

DAPT will work with a number of core partners to put communities at the heart of public health. They describe the change needed as a “radical shift” and want to see more person and community-centred approaches to health and wellbeing. Through non-clinical methods, using participatory approaches, co-creation, a reduction to barriers to engagement through “Access Funds” and utilising and building on the community asset of Delapré Abbey & Park, they aim to change the conditions that drive poor health by addressing community-level factors such as social networks, social capital, and empower people to have control over their health.

Partners include Warts & All Theatre, a company with a vision to create theatre where everyone belongs. Christopher Elmer-Gorry, Artistic Director and CEO of Warts and All Theatre, a company leading the way in artistic co-creation with communities commented “It’s a fantastic opportunity to create a programme of activity that is co-designed and embeds service users in active decision making. By shaping wellbeing activities that truly reflects what the community want and need, we will ensure that communities have an active voice in the creation of the programme. This approach will in turn enable the community to thrive, celebrate its success and own the impact.”

The General Practice Alliance Federation, covering nearly all the GP population of Northampton, and employing the majority of PCN Social Prescriber Link Workers across the town, will use a community participative approach to support raising awareness of green social prescribing as a community asset. Embedding the project within the existing networks will help ensure that more people are reached and it has a legacy. Dr David Smart, Clinical Director, said “As a GP of 30 years I know the value of exercise in nature with others. The Ten Keys to Happier Living will really come alive in such a beautiful setting, and resources and courses developed can be shared with other green spaces across the town.”

Northampton Leisure Trust operates a number of leisure facilities to provide active lifestyles in Northampton and is commited to developing community-based opportunities that push forward and develop programmes for people of all ages to take part in physical activity and promote the health and wellbeing benefits of an active lifestyle.

This will be backed up by research by The University of Northampton who will provide an evaluation of the project in partnership with Thriving Places Index and identify achievements. The supporting evaluation from the University demonstrates its continued commitment to making Northamptonshire the leading county in the UK for Health and Wellbeing.

The first Green Happy Café will hopefully inspire the establishment of many more.


Aimee Holmes is the Head of Audiences and Communication at Delapré Abbey Preservation Trust

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