Groundbreaking partnership gives Devon residents ‘moor to enjoy’

In a ground breaking partnership Exmoor National Park Authority is working with the Health and Wellbeing Boards of Devon and Somerset – the first of its kind in England – to demonstrate how access to green space can reduce the need for drug-based interventions or development of long term conditions.

Andrea Davis, Chairman of Devon’s Health and Wellbeing Board, and Exmoor National Park Authority and Somerset County Council Member Christine Lawrence, have both been instrumental in enabling the ‘Moor to Enjoy project to happen.

“Addressing health and wellbeing at an early stage has huge benefits for the individual and, in the longer term, reduces the burden on already squeezed health and social care services,” said Andrea.

“National Parks are special places for their landscapes and opportunities for recreation so at the same time as enjoying ourselves, we are also benefiting from our ‘natural’ health service, potentially reducing the need for visits to the GP or admissions to hospital.”

Studies have proved that access to ‘green space’ improves our health and wellbeing.  Whether it’s a simple as a picnic or going for a short walk up to a full on 15 mile ramble or taking part in a 6 hour cycling sportive it’s all to the good.  Taking part in practical projects can also help; tree planting, drystone walling, scrub bashing, wildlife surveys.  All of these activities bring in to contact with the natural environment and other people.

The Moor to Enjoy Project is joint funded for three years and, following a recruitment process, Keeley Rolfe has been appointed Project Coordinator and will start work in November.

The project will enable people who experience mental, emotional and physical health challenges to get involved on Exmoor as part of a programme to improve their health and wellbeing.  It is primarily aimed at reaching communities that would not normally consider visiting Exmoor.  Ultimately, the project will give skills, knowledge and confidence to health and social care professionals and groups to enjoy Exmoor independently without the support of the project officer.