£1.2m Greener Communities Fund for NHS charities to support public health and wellbeing 

 Nearly £1.2million has been allocated to create and improve green spaces across the UK, thanks to a new Greener Communities Fund from environmental charity Hubbub and NHS Charities Together, funded by proceeds from the Starbucks 5p cup charge. 

Grants of between £29,000 and £200,000 are being given to ten chosen NHS charities for up to two years, to fund projects with the aim of improving the health and wellbeing of the public, including NHS staff. The projects will create or improve community spaces and increase access to nature for people who have had limited access to green spaces, such as hospital patients and visitors, people living in urban communities or specific community groups. The selected projects include: 

  • A therapeutic woodland space for young people in mental health crisis in Birmingham 
  • A therapeutic gardening project for patients experiencing mental and physical health difficulties and social isolation in Cardiff 
  • A nature trail, green spaces and workshops to aid the recovery and improve health outcomes of patients with long-term health conditions in London 
  • Wellbeing gardens for patients and staff in Aberdeen, Colchester, Gloucestershire and Hartlepool 
  • An accessible play area for a children’s respite service in Norfolk 
  • A project to improve biodiversity and space for community growing, composting and an outdoor classroom in Burnley 
  • An outside education space for health and wellbeing workshops in Yorkshire 

The fund has been established as the use of green social prescribing is on the rise, to support people in engaging with nature-based interventions and activities to improve their mental health. The selected projects are all able to demonstrate clear social and/or health benefits, such as improved mental health, reduced social isolation and access to healthy diets, as well as a positive impact on the local environment. 

In advance of the funds being granted, Hubbub has been working with four pilot projects to learn from their development and provide inspiration for fund applicants, including: 

  • Enhancing a mental health walk on the grounds of the Prestwich site within Greater Manchester Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust, to support the recovery of patients and reduce stress for staff and visitors 
  • Building traditional covered seating with green roofs within the Health Meadow at University Hospital Llandough, Cardiff  

Ellie Orton OBE, Chief Executive at NHS Charities Together, said: “During the pandemic it became abundantly clear how important green spaces are for our health and wellbeing. There is sadly however significant inequality in access to these spaces, which is why we’re so pleased to be working with Starbucks and Hubbub on this new fund.  

“As a charity caring for the NHS one of our main objectives is to help improve the health of our nation, and in turn reduce the pressure on overstretched NHS services. Working with the local NHS charities who have been selected, we look forward to seeing the impact this funding makes for NHS staff, patients, and communities around the UK.” 

Gavin Ellis, Director and Co-Founder at Hubbub said: “This fund has potential to make a positive difference not just to people’s wellbeing, but also to the environment. As well as the direct environmental impact of more green spaces, studies have shown that spending time in nature makes people more likely to make environmentally friendly lifestyle choices. We are delighted to partner with NHS Charities Together to draw on their expertise in health and wellbeing and it is great to see so many of the selected NHS charities partnering with groups who can provide expertise in greening projects to support project delivery.”  

The Greener Communities Fund is the latest initiative as part of the ongoing support for Hubbub from the Starbucks 5p paper cup charge, which has been in place since 2018. Hubbub’s use of the cup charge funding has so far largely focused on reducing the environmental impacts of litter and encouraging recycling and reuse, with previous funding rounds boosting coffee cup recycling and supporting innovations to increase the uptake of reusable cups.  

The fund was open for expressions of interest from NHS charities from 7 December and shortlisted projects were invited to submit full applications in February 2023. The winning projects will be selected by a grant panel including representatives from Hubbub, Starbucks and NHS Charities Together.