More than medicine: food for wellbeing at Woodbank

...testing the effectiveness of prescribing more than just medicine.

This spring, Kindling will be working with doctors and volunteers to develop and trial something called ‘social prescribing’, based around our Woodbank site in Stockport. GPs will be referring interested patients for a programme involving healthy veg (through Veg Box People), cookery sessions and exercise in the form of gardening, instead of medicines – in the hope that this might be a more effective way to alleviate some moderate health conditions.

Social prescribing recognises that peoples’ health is affected by a whole range of factors, and tries to address their needs more broadly. It also aims to support people to take greater control of their own health.

Kay Ellermeyer, business manager at Alvanley Family Practice explains why they’re keen to explore this approach with us: 

    “We are passionate about the wellbeing of our patients.  We know that medicine is only one part of what makes our patients healthy, being part of a good social community, eating well and exercise is essential.  We have a fabulous team of clinicians and are excited to be able to build on that with our innovative work with Kindling.  We can already refer our patients to an exercise programme but we wanted to find a way to offer something alternative that also linked food with health and physical activity which respected their individual capabilities.  Linking with The Kindling Trust means that we have been able to devise a programme so that our patients can learn to grow and cook in a social and supportive environment.”   

Working with this amazing GP’s practice and their volunteers to develop this programme is a really exciting development for Kindling. The social prescribing package – making local organic veg accessible to a really wide range of people and engaging them in producing it - is a perfect example of the kind of model we want to help build, where poor wellbeing, economic inequality, isolation and sustainability are tackled together rather than being seen as disparate or competing challenges.  

       “We are convinced that this new programme will mean that some of our patients who are isolated will make new connections and gain support from growing, cooking and eating together.  There have been many studies that have proven the link between gardening and improvements in physical and mental health but we also believe that there will be a benefit for patients eating together.  We wouldn’t have been able to offer this type of opportunity if it wasn’t for the commitment of the staff at The Kindling Trust and the Starting Point Community Learning Partnership who are providing the cooking element of the programme.” Kay Ellermeyer

Already home to our Stockport FarmStart site, Woodbank is fast becoming a real hub for urban agriculture, joining up inclusive community gardening with commercial organic food production. Watch this space for updates on the pilot, we can't wait to begin!