Waltham Forest Adult Learning Service has worked in partnership with Waltham Forest Social Prescribing to set up a range of creative courses in locations such as Walthamstow Wetlands, Lloyd Park and Epping Forest Visitor Centre in Chingford.
“As part of a holistic approach to improve health, wellbeing and social welfare, our courses have encouraged residents to work together collaboratively and explore the nature and wildlife on their doorstep. Many of the learners suffer from anxiety and depression, have a long-term illness, are socially isolated, have dementia or other mental health conditions or have reduced mobility. Referrals come from the NHS, Waltham Forest Social Prescribing, Connecting Communities, CGL (Change Grow Live), Alzheimer’s Society, Waltham Forest Vision and many others. Since the project was launched in 2017 we have engaged over 200 residents.
Learners take part in activities such as drawing, painting, watercolours, felt-making, horticulture and gardening, in some of the most beautiful and inspiring green and blue spaces around the borough which has been integral to further enhancing their sense of well-being. The courses reintroduce them to education and many have progressed onto other courses including ESOL, gardening, and various community courses and accredited courses. Other learners progress on to volunteer in the parks, take part in conversation clubs, and participate in art exhibitions.”
Learner Lloyd said, “I was a teacher until I had a stroke and couldn’t work. I became depressed and anxious. I was referred to the creative wellbeing course, organised by Waltham Forest Adult Learning Service, then felt confident to progress and complete a buddy course working with senior citizens. I was also successful getting a job at Waltham Forest College as a support assistant.”
Caroline Valentine, Head of Quality and Curriculum at Waltham Forest Adult Learning Service said, “As we are a community responsive provision we are able to meet the individual needs of groups. We have worked collaboratively with a number of NHS partners and it is one of the few effective social prescribing programmes in the country.”
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