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Have you heard about Green Prescribing?

Extensive research has shown that regular access to green spaces can reduce hypertension; respiratory tract and cardiovascular illnesses; stress and anxiety; it can also improve concentration and mood and even increase life satisfaction and happiness. Across the country Health professionals, Social Prescribing Link Workers and the Care Network wellbeing team are increasingly recommending that being outdoors, in the garden, the local park, anywhere natural, can be hugely beneficial for your health.

A project in England from the Centre for Sustainable Healthcare, called Prescribing Green Space, found that six to eight months after receiving a ‘green prescription’ – where people are encouraged to help plant forests and spend time in local green spaces – 63 per cent of patients were more active and 46 per cent had lost weight.

Being outdoors in nature is not just about increasing activity, but being out anywhere where you can connect to and really notice the natural world, particularly now that the weather is improving and spring is underway, links very significantly to one of the five ways to wellbeing: noticing. The key is to try to switch off from your worries and day to day stressors and really notice what is going on around you: listen to the birdsong; appreciate the bright green shoots emerging from the soil and appearing on the trees and shrubs; feel the sun, wind or rain on your skin; smell the flowers, the soil and freshly mown grass; touch the leaves, the bark, the earth. It really can be a tonic after the winter months.

The beauty of a green prescription is that you can prescribe it for yourself (and to your family and friends) to help improve overall health and mood. It would be good for us all to try and make time every day to be out in and noticing nature. Enjoy.

Kate Blackwell, Senior Coordinator for Wellbeing, March 2020

Sharing our knowledge

Last October we were invited to attend meetings at Cambridge Job Centre (which covers the city, South Cambs and some of East Cambs and Fenland) with staff from the job centre, local authorities, the foodbank, housing associations and other local authorities.   We have attended these each month and they provide a useful chance to network and share information.  The meetings aim to support the clients the job centre judges to be most vulnerable,  they are very informal – general or specific queries are welcome and we all have an input and normal learn something new every meeting.

One thing I discovered was that the Cambridge Citizens Advice Bureaux are running a Help to Claim Scheme, to assist people with their Universal Credit applications, personal budgeting, debt assistance, food bank applications etc. this was funded via the DWP initially and now receives City Council and CAB funding.  This support can be accessed via:

  • CAB at Devonshire Road appointment service
  • Thursdays 1pm-4pm drop in at job centre in Cambridge
  • 0800 328 52644 free phone number
  • CAB website chat on line:


If you have any specific queries and/or general questions please contact Jigna on do not hesitate to contact Mirella and I and we will try to discuss the case at the next meeting which will hopefully provide some support and maybe even some answers.

Jigna Vyas Gosal

Beat the stress this Christmas

It’s nearly Christmas and all the advertisements showing the ‘perfect’ celebration can push people’s expectations and expenditure. For some it can be a demanding and stressful time of year.  In the wellbeing team we speak to some clients who find Christmas challenging – maybe they will be alone or perhaps they find it is an emotionally painful time. Here are some ideas to help reduce the stress and anxiety that Christmas can bring. You, your family and friends might find them helpful too.

1- Be careful with finances.  Money issues are a leading cause of stress over the Christmas period.  The best way to manage this is to plan ahead, buy Christmas presents throughout the year and try to limit impulsive spending.  It is important to set an affordable budget and stick to it.

2 –Manage expectations. Be realistic, help others to be realistic by explaining that Christmas is about being together and not about how many presents they get.

3 – Eat well and drink sensibly.  What we eat and drink can have an impact on how we feel.  Although it’s fine to treat yourself, be mindful about balance and moderation.

4  – Coping with loneliness.  Find meaningful ways to spend your time, such as volunteering or visiting someone else in your community who is also alone.  Do something that you love, make Christmas Day a day for you to spend doing something that is meaningful and enjoyable  – it doesn’t have to be Christmas related.  Find out if there are any local community events you can access.

5 – Stay active.  As tempting as it is to stay indoors at this time of year it will help you to relax and boost your wellbeing if you get out and about in the fresh air.

6 – Ask for help and take a break. It’s okay to ask for help if you are struggling or feeling overwhelmed or to say no when you need to. Think about the things you could do to help you relax, do something just for yourself.

7 – Have fun.  Forget how busy you are and make time to have fun.  Laughter is a great way to combat stress and to help you relax, so organise a few fun activities that you will enjoy. Re-runs of Only Fools and Horses, Fawlty Towers, Desmond’s or Morecambe and Wise can be a tonic.

Whatever you do, we hope you have an enjoyable time.

Best wishes, Kate Blackwell and Cate Winters.

Coneygear Seniors in action!

Care Network has been supporting the relaunch of the Medway Community Centre in Huntingdon and our Community Navigator District Coordinators Rachel and Lorraine popped along to visit the Coneygear Seniors Group last week.

One of the group brought along some wool for the knitting table. Rachel suggested knitting squares to make a blanket for a homeless charity, thinking of similar efforts to raise funds happening in our Chatteris office. This was really popular and helped to give the knitters satisfaction that they were able to help others.  Our ladies had some lovely conversations, sharing information on various local services and activities and will be giving further support to some members, including referring to our Wellbeing service. They also met a member that is already receiving support from one of our wonderful volunteers.

Rachel and Lorraine enjoyed participating in the chair based exercise group “It was really interesting for us to experience.  A lady asked after the exercise where she could get a resistance band.  I asked Everyone Health if they could let her have a free one but they don’t have many, so directed her to Amazon or Sports Direct.  She said she would ask her son to order her one.”

One of the ladies Lorraine spoke to said she had moved to Huntingdon 8 years ago and this club was the first opportunity she had had to get out and meet new people.  She was really pleased she had made the effort and we will be working with her to explore other social opportunities.

Rachel and Lorraine are both looking forward to visiting again to build relationships and obviously to finish their knitted squares –their knitters have promised to keep going in their absence J

The Coneygear Seniors group takes place every Wednesday from 9am to 1pm at the Medway Centre. There are lots of activities to take part in along with refreshments and a 2 course cooked meal.

Community Navigators supporting community resilience

Our Community Navigators have been working with partners across the county to support communities as well as individuals.

Susie, our Chief Executive Officer was featured on Huntingdon Community Radio’s “Over to You” programme, outlining the support we provide to local people and inviting listeners to get involved.

Our Volunteering & Outreach Senior Coordinator met with Norfolk-based ‘Ask Lily’ to discuss more collaborative working for people living along the border with Cambridgeshire.   Ask Lily sit within the Kings Lynn & West Norfolk council and are commissioned to combat loneliness and social isolation in adults of all ages. They maintain an online directory of organisations, services and activities that help people live healthy, active and independent lives. Care Network services and volunteering opportunities will soon be featured and our team are already referring into Ask Lily.

Adult Learning and Skills, Cambridgeshire are working on a ‘Sharing Stories; Sharing Lives’ project to equip volunteers to facilitate older people to share and tell their (life)story. Care Network was invited to be involved in the first stage of the project: developing storytelling-based training and resources. Our teams contributed to the development of Stor-E tree question materials and training sessions. This will be a useful tool to help people explore their personal history and ambitions, offering the opportunity to connect with others and improve wellbeing

In Fenland, we are part of the new Wisbech and Surrounding Villages Charities Network and Whittlesey and March Food Poverty Network. We regularly attend partner meetings and our Community Development and Healthy Fenland teams continue to offer support to new community projects aimed at tackling poverty. As a Golden Age partner, we run stalls at community fairs aimed at the over 50s held across Fenland. Our Open Arms team joined us at the last fair at Wisbech St Mary to engage with members of the public around the subject of loneliness.

We took part in the recent Steel Bones Celebration Day at Isleham; this was attended by around 300 amputees and their families.  Lesley and Corrina provided information about our services to families enjoying samba music, sports, holistic treatments, hair braiding, inflatables and face painting in the sunshine.

Our teams were recently trained in Making Every Contact Count by Everyone Health. We had lots of lively discussion and practice focussed on helping people to make positive changes to improve their health and wellbeing.



Wellbeing is at the heart of everything we do at Care Network and as organisation we aim to improve the wellbeing of all clients, volunteers and staff.

Cate Winters and I continue to work across Cambridgeshire to provide wellbeing support to clients who are experiencing feelings of stress, low mood, mild to moderate anxiety and/or depression. We provide strengths-based interventions to help clients identify what they need and would like to do and support and encourage them to achieve their goals. Sometimes we are able to draw on some amazing additional support from volunteers; this really can make a huge difference to a client’s progress – in two recent instances very isolated individuals have been supported to get out and about and both now routinely access community based support and activities, which has really helped improve their lives and how they feel. We are hoping to boost the number of people who volunteer with the Wellbeing Team, so if you are interested in finding out more about this please let me or Azanda Sithole, our Volunteer Lead, know.

Cate will be piloting a fortnightly Wellbeing Booster Group for 6 sessions in March town from September to November, with the support of our excellent volunteer, Charlotte. For more information on the group please contact Cate or myself.  We will hopefully be running something similar in the South of the county in due course.

The staff Wellbeing Working Group is busy hatching plans for staff to engage in some wellbeing related activities in our planned Wellbeing Week in September and Azanda is also planning to restart the popular volunteer and staff wellbeing walks in the different districts soon.

Kate Blackwell, Senior Coordinator, Wellbeing.  01954 774 802

Community Navigators – May Update – Care Network Cambridgeshire

Our dedicated admin volunteers continue to support our Community Navigator Coordinators with district mapping exercises and updating local information and resources.  Several have now embarked on outreach and promotional activities at key community venues and events, including Volunteer for Cambridge, Golden Age Fairs and the LGSS Carers Training launch.

If you’d like to get involved, please get in touch with your coordinator!

Next quarter we are looking to work with local groups to support them to share information in their communities. Do you know someone who might be interested in information-sharing training and ongoing support from our Community Navigator team?

We would like your help to recruit more volunteers to support our work.

Do you have a friend you think would enjoy volunteering?

Perhaps they are approaching retirement and considering options, or have a little free time they’d like to use to make an impact in their community?

If you can “Refer A Friend” please get in touch.

We can arrange an informal chat about current opportunities at Care Network.