Creating a nature-based social prescribing menu: how to proceed?
Example of Barcelona’s pilot city!

Fist co-creation session with stakeholders in Barcelona

In order to tackle loneliness and improve wellbeing in cities, a range of nature-based and social activities will be tested on groups of volunteers all around the world. Let’s focus on the first step: design the most appropriate activities possible!

To begin with, our 6 pilot cities – Barcelona, Marseille, Helsinki, Prague, Melbourne, Cuenca – identified local stakeholders (local authorities, associations and professionals…) from various fields related with RECETAS work: nature, health, social action and community engagement. Then, supported by the University of Cuenca, each team set up a series of participatory workshops with these stakeholders to co-create a menu of nature-based social prescribing to be implemented, specific to each territory.

Let’s have a look at the work done in Barcelona, where the pilot actions are based in the neighbourhood of Les Roquetes located in the Nou Barris district !

📍 Why Les Roquetes neighbourhood?

Roquetes neighbourhood is an integrating, supportive and feisty neighbourhood.
It is committed to building a better future for the neighbourhood by enhancing social relations between residents and encouraging them to take care of each other. The neighbourhood also stands out for its ability to welcome migratory waves and for promoting integration as the main way to foster community interaction. The neighbourhood movement has had a strong influence on the contemporary association and cultural movement in the neighbourhood. In this respect, neighbourhood associations are urging not only to maintain but also to extend the range of facilities.

Roquetes benefits from several green spaces.
Nou Barris is one of the districts with the largest amount of green space per inhabitant (17,19m²/inhabitant) as it includes the foothills of the Collserola mountain range. Apart from the mountain range, the neighbourhood has other natural spaces such as municipal urban vegetable gardens, parks and a squatted social centre.

Social prescribing has been in operation for years in the Roquetes neighbourhood.
However, activities based on nature areas were not necessarily promoted by previous projects. This is then an opportunity for RECETAS: the concept being widespread in the neighbourhood, RECETAS can reach more people than previously and test a new type of activity based on nature.

The rate of loneliness, isolation and mental health issues is high.
In 2018, a community assessment identified the main problems to be addressed and at the top of the list were isolation and loneliness of the elderly and mental health in relation to unemployment or job insecurity. These issues are also those of RECETAS which aims to study the effects of Nature-based Social Prescribing on the feeling of loneliness and the improvement of mental health.

🎯 Scope for action

The RECETAS team in Barcelona conducted several participatory workshops in Les Roquetes gathering administrative stakeholders such as the Municipality of Barcelona, the Natural Parc “La Serra de Collserola”, the Catalonian public health agency and the province of Barcelona, and several entities, associations and social and cultural movements.

Together they identified four different vulnerable groups in the neighbourhood that could benefit from RECETAS:

  • Young people isolated at home because of the Covid-19 pandemic. They do not have mental health problems now but may develop them.
  • Older people who have become more isolated after the pandemic caused by Covid-19 and who find it difficult to resume activities or relate to other people.
  • Adults in insecure situations who have seen their situation worsen because of the Covid-19 pandemic. They are unemployed or on long-term furlough.
  • Informal caregivers who do not present any type of network beyond the sick person.

From this observation, it appears that the main challenge for RECETAS in Les Roquetes neighbourhood will be to create a united group with bonds of friendships across these four targets.

📝 The outputs of the co-creation process

Beyond these insights for the implementation of the RECETAS project in Les Roquetes neighborhood, the participants developed a list of criteria, a list of people, groups, and organizations running nature activities, and a list of nature areas. Then, and based on those lists, participants agreed on a menu of activities that could be used for RECETAS.
Some of the topics of the activities are vegetable gardens, workshops and guided tours, forest bathing, exercise in nature, participation in citizen science projects in nature.

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