Health & Wellbeing

Through the work of TCV, people improve their physical and mental health and wellbeing, by being outdoors, active and connected with others

A wide range of TCV activities provide opportunities to improve physical and mental health and wellbeing through physical activity and social interaction.

TCV’s Green Gym programme, provides an alternative to traditional gym or fitness activities. Green Gym improves health and wellbeing through group-based physical activity with a purpose.

Green Gym consists of fun and free outdoor sessions that improve green spaces. The emphasis is very much on improving the physical and mental health and wellbeing of those involved, while forming new social groups.

Green Gym - Exercise to make a difference

TCV created and runs Green Gyms across the UK.

Green Gyms are fun and free outdoor sessions where you will be guided in practical activities such as planting trees, clearing play areas, sowing meadows and establishing wildlife ponds.

Participants take part in a wide range of worthwhile activities, improving strength, flexibility, mental wellbeing and feelings of optimism.

Green Gym research

Find out more about Green Gym

Social prescribing

Social prescribing recognises how social, economic and environmental factors affect people’s health, where medication alone is unlikely to provide a sustainable improvement. It connects patients with support in their local community to help address their health issues holistically and give them greater control of their own health and wellbeing.

TCV’s Green Gym programme is part of the social prescribing process, reflecting its positive impact on both physical health and mental wellbeing.

We lead part of the national development programme on social prescribing, working closely with VCSE colleagues, the NHS, universities and interested groups across, and produced a guide to support social prescribing programmes in England.

Find out more about Social Prescribing, which has been supported by the National Lottery Community Fund.

Enabling the potential of social prescribing

A summary of the issues affecting longer-term Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise (VCSE) sector funding for social prescribing including views from before and during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Two surveys were conducted – the first survey component of this report before the outbreak of COVID-19, and the second not long after the first peak had passed. This summary reflects the fact that the extent of the pandemic’s effects on social structure, the economy, public wellbeing and the VCSE sector is just starting to emerge.

Download the report [PDF]

Health Walks

TCV’s guided Health Walks are short, friendly walks lasting no longer than an hour. Anyone can join in. These walks are designed to encourage active lifestyles and would benefit anyone looking to improve their health and wellbeing.

The routes are easy, avoiding tricky terrain, steep hills and stiles where possible and our friendly, volunteer Walk Leaders are there to support you every step of the way.

Health Walks provide a pleasant way to gradually improve health and well-being and could be for you if you are recovering from illness or injury, getting little exercise or lacking in confidence and self-esteem. Having said that, the majority of walkers stay because they enjoy the social aspects of taking part and meeting new people! Our free Health Walks take place at various places around the country.

Find a Health Walk near you

Greenspaces for Mental Health

There is a wealth of evidence that Green Gyms and other nature-based programmes provide proven benefits in improving peoples’ health and wellbeing, but what are the key components that make such schemes effective?

These components are considered in a short guide, ‘Greenspaces for Mental Health’, which outlines seven prime research findings on the topic, with ideas on how these might translate into practice. Alongside the research results are ‘practitioner perspectives’ provided by TCV staff who have organised green health programmes, and who are well placed to consider the principal factors for their success.

The guide has been produced by TCV, the University of Stirling and Dundee Green Health Partnership.

Download Greenspaces for Mental Health [PDF]

TCV supports the 5 ways to wellbeing (developed by the New Economics Foundation)

Five ways to wellbeing graphic