Our connection with the natural world has never been more important as we face the twin crises of climate change and habitat destruction. Our health and well-being are inextricably linked to both through pollution, extreme weather and loss of our natural life support systems.
Protecting nature will help reduce these impacts whilst the time we spend in nature – our ‘nature connection’ – can also improve our physical and mental health. Unfortunately, the UK has become one of the most nature-depleted countries in the world with one in seven of our native species facing extinction and more than a half in decline.
Newcastle Hospitals is playing a leading role in addressing the crisis both in the UK and abroad.
In 2019 we were the first healthcare organisation in the world to declare a Climate Emergency. As well as making the care that we deliver greener and less damaging, we also have a responsibility to protect the natural environment and so promote the health of the communities we serve.
With this in mind, ‘Nature Connect – Newcastle Hospitals’, has been set up to:
- Connect our patients and staff with nature
- Support other groups and organisations in helping protect nature in our region
We are doing this under two different themes and in three different ways:
Theme 1: People
Since 2018, we have run monthly conservation activities for Trust staff, family and friends, including beach cleans, tree and hedgerow planting, a wetlands restoration, and restoration of the Victorian walled garden at Cresswell Pele Tower.
Our work has been recognised by the Trust, as runners up in the 2019 Celebrating Excellence Flourish award, but our most encouraging feedback has been from our younger participants, who have gained the confidence to speak up about environmental matters after taking part in Green Gym activities.
You can contact Green Gym at email@example.com
Green social prescribing
Research has shown that time spent in nature can help patients’ physical and mental health, and those who have become socially isolated. Outdoors activities, such as nature walks, light gardening and other nature-related tasks are now regularly ‘prescribed’ to help address these problems.
Nature Connect will support the Green Gym and green social prescribing to cover equipment costs (litter pickers, gardening kit, etc.) and materials (such as tree saplings for planting).
Theme 2: Place
The Long View project
The positive changes we make now will have an impact far into the future. Donors to Long View will create a lasting legacy to our natural environment and for generations to come by restoring habitats across our region. We will use donations to allow groups and other organisations to acquire and/or restore land to allow nature not only to recover, but also to thrive.
Depending on the area of land, acquired, habitat restoration could include the planting of trees or hedgerows, the creation of wetlands, protection of moorland or natural regeneration. A key goal of habitat restoration will be its nature connection – its value in creating natural corridors or bridges to link different habitats and allow species to migrate and thrive. Our Long View of creating a rich and diverse tapestry of nature in our region, sympathetic to its history and the people living and working within it, is critical to restoring its biodiversity but is also one of the key ways of combating climate change.
Donors to Long View can mark special occasions or remember lost loved ones and colleagues with dedications recorded on our separate donors’ page. Donors will be able to opt in to receive the Nature Connect newsletter to make sure they are kept abreast of how their donations have been used.
About nature connect
Nature Connect is run by volunteers and receives all of its funding through charitable donations, grants and other fund-raising activities. Our overall strategy is overseen by an advisory board, comprising:
- Suren Kanagasundaram, Consultant, Renal Services, Newcastle Hospitals (programme founder and lead)
- Steve Lowe, Northumberland Rivers Trust & Cresswell Pele Tower project
- Toni Poole, Sister, Renal Services, Newcastle Hospitals
- Mike Pratt, CEO, Northumberland Wildlife Trust
- James Dixon, Associate Director of Sustainability, Newcastle Hospitals
For further information, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Follow us on Twitter: @NatureConnectNE