University leads the way in prescribing volunteering to students

flower plantingThe University’s Green Wellbeing Project (GWP) is a project where volunteering is ‘prescribed’ to students rather than medication if appropriate. Jointly managed by the University’s Volunteering and Awards and the Social Prescribing teams along with the team at the University’s Firs Botanical Gardens, the project is now well into its second year, with regular volunteers attending weekly.

All staff involved ensure participating students feel emotionally and mentally supported, with all the volunteering activities benefiting the environment and the wider community. Activities include repotting bulbs, weeding, planting up hanging baskets and prepping beds for an evolution garden.

Whilst social prescribing is being used more and more by health professionals in the community, we have been unable to find any other University volunteering service in the UK using social prescribing to utilise the wellbeing benefits of volunteering in such a proactive way, working with mental health colleagues.

Amelia Hart, who leads on the project from the Volunteering and Awards team says: “I really enjoy sharing this project with the Social Prescribers, we all work well together as a team. It’s great to have both a volunteering as well as a counselling point of view, it means that it benefits the students as well as the wider community.”

With support from the Students’ Union Crochet and Knitting Society, the partnership between the Volunteering and Awards and the Social Prescribing teams has recently developed further. Together we hosted a fantastic volunteering wellbeing event where around 30 student volunteers got together to crochet or knit newborn baby hats. The hats have been donated to local charity Eid Unwrapped which has partnered with St. Mary’s Hospital to gift 50 care hampers to new mothers and their newborn babies in the NICU wards. Some students have continued to volunteer from home to crochet or knit baby hats to donate to Eid Unwrapped.