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Oxford Botanic Garden and Arboretum hosted a dedicated event for link workers and social prescribers

Written by a colleague at the Oxford Botanic Garden and Arboretum.


On Thursday 13 October, Oxford Botanic Garden and Arboretum hosted a dedicated event for link workers and social prescribers, to promote its social prescribing programme.

Social prescribing in gardens and outdoor spaces is based on research that shows people who spend time outdoors in nature are significantly more likely to report good general health, higher psychological wellbeing and greater physical activity levels than those who do not. 

Harcourt Arboretum’s wellbeing programme currently offers a range of activities including forest bathing, yoga and meditation; feedback from attendees of this event will help shape what the social prescribing and wellbeing programme could look like in the future.

The event was hosted by Dr Chris Thorogood, Deputy Director of Oxford Botanic Garden and Arboretum, Lesley Best, project manager for the National Lottery Heritage Fund Arboretum Development, under which the social prescribing programme is being run, and Catherine Vivian, Primary Education Officer at the University of Oxford Botanic Garden and Arboretum.

Attendees included social prescribing link workers, who are key to delivering social prescribing. They enjoyed a guided tour of the Arboretum and learned about plans for a new Visitor and Learning Centre. They also heard from Dr Stephanie Tierney, who works at the Centre for Evidence Based Medicine, University of Oxford, about research she has carried out with colleagues on social prescribing

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Dr Tierney said: “It is important for link workers and providers of activities and events that could form part of social prescribing to interact and talk about how best to support people with their broader health and well-being. It was a wonderful meeting that allowed for the sharing of information and ideas. Being at the Arboretum, on a beautiful autumn day, highlighted to those present the potential health and well-being benefits that this setting can offer as part of social prescribing.”

There was also a group discussion for the attendees to provide feedback on the social prescribing programme, talk about ways the Arboretum can work in partnership with social prescribers and link workers, and suggest any changes the Arboretum can make to better serve participants of the programme. 

Catherine Vivian said: “We were delighted to host such an inspirational group at the Arboretum, we had some really informative discussions around barriers to visitation and how we can shape our programme to address these. The Arboretum is a beautiful place that everyone can enjoy, and we look forward to working with our new colleagues to create an experience that is accessible to all.”

For more information about the Arboretum Development, made possible by National Lottery players, visit