Nature Connected

Natural Choices for Health and Wellbeing Programme

Communities were asked to design their own projects, responding to local needs and assets within the broad framework of improving health and wellbeing utilising the local environment. 38 projects formed the collaborative programme, which took place throughout 2012 and was funded by Liverpool Primary Care Trust and run in partnership with The Mersey Forest.

Aims and principles:-

  • The five ways to wellbeing as an evidence-based experiential model for increasing wellbeing and capacity for improving wellbeing.
  • Supporting community assets and community project design
  • Targeting of resources to tackle inequalities, according to evidence base.

External programme evaluation was conducted by the University of Essex and demonstrated that the programme met its aims and objectives and that wellbeing improved, by 18% and shifted from below average to above average wellbeing compared to the mean score for Liverpool’s population. Comparable initiatives have demonstrated improvements of around 10%.

Participants included young children to elderly people, including a 91 year old! Also involved were people with learning difficulties, mental or physical disabilities, mental illness, unemployed and homeless people, families seeking asylum and young people with behavioural or emotional difficulties. The participants were from very deprived areas experiencing significant health inequalities.


  • Development of social cohesion and social capital
  • Reduction in social isolation
  • Increase in interest, engagement, and achievement of participants, including formal qualifications
  • Improved, self-esteem self-efficacy and overall wellbeing and mental health
  • Increase in physical activity
  • Partnerships between participant projects and with other agencies
  • Lasting impact for participants and in some communities
  • Improvements to local community environments
  • Considerable social cost savings


  • 38 projects
  • 44 weeks delivery
  • 867 volunteers
  • 135 people employed
  • 3,274 participants in:
  • 1,243 events
  • 100 partners
  • £300,000 investment

The project cost £2.14 per participant per week – made possible by the dedication, voluntary effort and passion of the delivery organisations and individuals. Social cost savings were calculated which demonstrate a range of spending that can be avoided or redirected by these activities.