Nature-based health promotion: a valuable tool in prison partnerships

Baybutt, Michelle orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-3201-7021 (2019) Nature-based health promotion: a valuable tool in prison partnerships. European Journal of Public Health, 29 (S4). ISSN 1101-1262

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Abstract In the context of the current UK prison reform agenda and concern about the high incidence of violence, substance misuse, self-harm and suicide, prison-based horticulture can make a significant contribution to the creation of safe, secure, supportive and health-enhancing environments. By joining up health and justice agendas, therapeutic programmes have the potential to serve as powerful catalysts for wider systemic change, tackling inequalities and social exclusion within societies across the globe. This presentation critically discusses findings from evaluative research, ‘Greener on the Outside for Prisons’ (GOOP), delivered in prisons in North West England. It aims to illustrate impacts of prisoners’ participation in an innovative social and therapeutic horticultural programme. The qualitative study was informed by a theoretical exploration on socio-ecological model of health emphasising interconnections between environment, behaviour and wellbeing, recognising the dynamic interplay between situational and personal factors; by a psychosocial perspective, positioning the individual in networks of interpersonal relationships, organisations, and social, political and economic systems; and by insights from the Biophilia Hypothesis. Findings suggest that engagement in GOOP were important to improvements in health and wellbeing with wider context-specific benefits. Working across key agendas of health, education and resettlement, GOOP has effectively demonstrated the potential of horticulture to impact positively on mental wellbeing, physical activity and healthier eating. Additionally, it contributes towards social inclusion through the development of key transferable skills, life competencies, processes of socialisation, and preparation for successful resettlement and employment beyond prison, which are ultimately key determinants of future health and life chances.

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