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

A helping hand

Lorraine from our Help at Home service writes:  Change is always difficult: we might say, ‘I don’t mind change.. ‘ I welcome change’… but secretly, we are nervous of the unknown.

My volunteer pool has grown over the past couple of months as we have changed the way our Help at home service is delivered. However, change has brought with it new conversations, not least from volunteers I knew as a name, but hadn’t previously spoken to.


Those of you that know me, know I love a chat and I love an accent, so imagine my pleasure when I spoke to one of our volunteers with a soft Scottish accent and a wonderful story she shared with me.


This lovely lady was very pleased to hear from me, and I could hear the smile in her voice as she said ‘ well I do enjoy helping with those little things…’ 

We chatted briefly about Christmas and the weather, and she told me that she had been away on a cruise.  During her holiday she had visited the ship’s laundry room and met a lady doing her ironing.  They shared the usual pleasantries about the ship and the trip so far and how, no matter where you are, chores still need to be done. 

‘Oh I hate ironing’, said the lady

‘Really? I love it.  In fact I like it so much I work for charity and have helped people who can’t manage household tasks for themselves, ironing being one of them.’

‘So where do you live?’ said the woman

‘Cambridgeshire’ said our volunteer.

‘Whereabouts exactly?’ enquired the woman further.

‘Oh a little village near Peterborough’ said our volunteer.

‘And the charity? What’s the name of the Charity?’

‘Oh you probably have never heard of them, they are called Care Network,’ said our lovely volunteer with pride!

‘I live in that area,’ said the woman ‘and you came to my house three years ago to do just that when I broke my arm!’


The volunteer went on to say that it was in that moment she realised how much she was needed and so she was very glad when I called with details of someone else she could help.


So for me, talking to the volunteers who deliver our service is an absolute pleasure and reminds me why and how we do what we do.  I hope that with all the volunteer events planned for 2020 that I get to meet and thank more of our wonderful volunteers.  These selfless people pay it forward in the name of Care Network every day and I, for one, am very grateful for their time and efforts.

Thank you LW for sharing your story and your heart with our communities.

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: https://www.cambridgecab.org.uk/


If you have any specific queries and/or general questions please contact Jigna on Jigna.vg@care-network.org.uk 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

Making connections in Fenland

The Healthy Fenland Team work hard to stay well connected with our communities. We spend a great deal of time getting to know what is happening by engaging with members of the public and established community groups. Early in the project we realised there was a lot of duplication between organisations trying to deliver community activities in Fenland, especially where they received statutory funding. To try to reduce this and make sure that our projects were really meeting the communities needs we established The Community Development Workers Get-togethers.

Three times a year we host a meeting for anyone working with the community in Fenland to meet and share what they are doing. Most professionals struggle to make time for yet another meeting but everyone needs to eat so we hold the sessions at lunch time. We provide the venue, a few nibbles and tea & coffee and suggest people bring and eat their own lunch.

We start each meeting by inviting one of the members to tell us about a new project or scheme for about 15 minutes and then it is all about networking. We expect by the end of the event that everyone will have talked to everyone else in the room.

This meeting has led to some really good collaborative work such as the International Food Event, more referrals to the Benefits Support Scheme at the Rosmini Centre and input into the public consultation on the Cambridgeshire & Peterborough – New Lifestyle Service.

This meeting has really helped establish the Healthy Fenland Team as a major player within the local community development family. Whenever we meet a new professional or come across a new scheme or initiative we invite them to the next meeting.

 The speaker at the next meeting will be Nikki Dekker Warm Homes Project Officer working for PECT.

Julie Jeffryes


Volunteer Christmas parties!

In December we had our Volunteer Christmas parties for both North (at the FACT Offices in March) and South (at C3 Church in Cambridge). It was great to catch up with the volunteers and for them to meet one another. One of the reasons why volunteers come to these events is to catch up with their coordinators so a big thank you to all coordinators for looking after the volunteers throughout the year and for helping make the parties that much better. A big thank you to Sarah Bellow who loaned me all the decorations for the tables which she found in the boot of her car  – amazing!

Open Arms

The Open arms project continues to listen to communities who want to take action to tackle loneliness across Peterborough and Cambridgeshire. It is encouraging to see small things can make a big difference to people’s lives. This was demonstrated to me recently whilst on a visit to a local care home in Fenland. Some young mums had got together and decided to take their children to visit a local care home. To see the eyes of one of the residents who struggles to communicate light up at the sight of a child playing with their toys is special. It is a welcome reminder of the power of human connection. It is these moments that make it all worth it.


As we move into Winter, Open Arms is looking forward to working with the Princes Trust and the volunteer Police cadets in residential care settings in both the North and the South of the county. We are a sharing our message that small moments of connection are vital in tackling loneliness across the county during the re launch of the 50,000 reasons campaign.  We are looking forward to continuing to develop small partnerships with those who want to take action in their community. We have been looking for opportunities to bring some Christmas cheer and reaching out to those who are less well connected. If everyone plays a part by taking small actions, the result is that communities come together stronger.

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.

Community Funding for South Cambridgeshire

South Cambs District Council Community Chest has increased it fund to £49,000 and the criteria has widened to allow more groups to bid. Changes to the eligibility criteria of the Community Chest fund  will give more Parish Councils in South Cambridgeshire a chance to bid for funding to support their community projects – while at the same time the total funding, available to March, will increase to £49,070.


The Community Chest fund supports Parish Councils and other local groups in their efforts to promote active and healthy lifestyles, build inclusive communities, and enhance the natural environment – and groups can bid for up to £1,000 from the fund towards these projects.


Each year, the fund is split in half so that groups applying later in the year will still have an opportunity to bid before the funding has all been allocated. Applications for the second half of the pot are now being taken. Bids will be reviewed on a monthly basis until March, or until the year’s allocated funds have all been awarded.


Please contact sarah.b@care-network.org.uk  or mirella.t@care-network.org.uk  if you would like more information


More information about the new eligibility criteria can be found on SCDC website



Whittlesey Festival

The Whittlesey Festival has been running for 11 years and has grown immeasurably over time. Whittlesey is a market town on the outskirts of Peterborough but has always come under the Fenland District Council boundaries. The Festival is a celebration of the towns’ vibrancies and diversity and has a reputation for lots of entertainments and local talent. They expect at least 5000 visitors over the weekend.

Care Network held an information stand with Adam Fraser from the Open Arms project, Julie Jeffryes from the Healthy Fenland Team and Azanda Sithole the new volunteer lead. The weather was glorious it was a perfect early autumn day with glorious sunshine. We spent the day talking to lots of people about all of the different Care Network projects. Julie identified a number of potential new group opportunities. Adam talked to lots of people about Open Arms and Azanda identified some potential new volunteers.

We all spent time walking around the festival stalls and activities giving out our leaflets & information and talking to people we were able to see some of the varied entertainments such as the Local Pipe Band, Ukrainian Cossack Dancers and a local Children’s Theatre Group perform. There was music and entertainment all day. Lots of lovely food and charity stalls, a Photography Competition and lots of raffles and games of chance to entertain people. We would all recommend you try to attend next year’s event.

It is very important that Care Network is seen out and about it the communities we serve and this was a great opportunity to meet lots of different people.