Introduction to South East Wales Area Statement
This theme is about identifying opportunities and collaborative interventions that protect and improve health and well-being; connecting people, communities and service delivery to nature for the benefit of both people and the environment
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These Area Statements summarise discussions from the last couple of years. We are adapting our plans for future events and workshops due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Please note that all Natural Resources Wales (NRW) car parks, play areas and toilet blocks in the reserves, woods and forests are closed from 23 March 2020.
For more information see our main page on coronavirus.
A range of factors shape our health and well-being. The places and spaces around us (our environment) influence our behaviours, the way we live and our physical and mental health. Different surroundings are a factor affecting health outcomes for individuals and perpetuate health inequalities across communities.
Good quality surroundings enable people to be more physically active, feel safe and secure, use facilities and services and socialise and play. These factors support good physical and mental health and well-being. Conversely, poorer quality environments may lack access to green spaces, have inadequate housing provision, greater traffic issues and air pollution, and lack of access to services. Such environments discourage healthy behaviours and may even impact directly on physical and mental health.
Green spaces bring people and communities together and provide opportunities to address issues of social exclusion and loneliness. Communal outdoor activity builds a common sense of purpose and nurtures local identity and pride in place.
Growing evidence shows that exposure to natural settings could be effective in treating some health conditions, particularly mental illnesses and that engaging with nature benefits those living with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), depression and dementia by improving cognitive functioning and reducing anxiety.
Image by Come Outside Project
|What success looks like||The vision for South East|
|The health and resilience of our ecosystems across the four attributes of ecosystem resilience is not being compromised and where there is a need, is being enhanced||Partners in Gwent working collaboratively to protect and improve health and well-being by connecting people, communities and service delivery to nature for the benefit of both people and the environment. Together, we develop a sustained knowledge, understanding and interaction with nature and realise the multiple benefits that nature can provide. The value of nature for society and economy is reflected in decision-making and public spend|
|Natural resources are being used efficiently and the supply of different ecosystem services is being optimised for well-being||
A globally responsible Wales:
When young people are connected to nature, it has positive impacts on their education, physical health, emotional well-being and personal and social skills. Learning about nature helps to develop active, responsible, ethical citizens
A prosperous Wales:
Plentiful, well-functioning, high quality green spaces are driving inward investment and increasing local economic resilience. Public transport is accessible and active travel possible. People have good knowledge of their local environment, social connections high are and public/community green assets are shared. Vibrant natural spaces increase the demand for green skills, provide opportunities for lifelong learning and volunteering and further sustainable economic ventures boosting and supporting the local green economy
A healthier Wales:
Local green spaces and approaches to their management and health interventions are combining to ensure that Gwent is healthier. Nature and the outdoors are a mainstream part of people’s lives and ‘the system’ (healthcare, planning, education, etc.). Nature-based solutions become the normal approach. Organisations are working collaboratively to make this happen (e.g. Natural Health System). People have access to safe natural spaces in which to exercise, play, grow food, unwind and relax. Green routes for active travel are available to all from an early age and healthy behaviours are the norm. There are less cars and cleaner air. Children feel inspired, safe and encouraged to play outside. Communities benefit from increased physical activity, better mental health and the prevention of chronic health conditions (e.g. obesity, Type 2 Diabetes). This means there is less ill-health and less difference in healthy life expectancy across Gwent
A Wales of vibrant culture and thriving Welsh Language:
Vibrant local green spaces are expressive, fun and creative. They are designed for and by residents and are reflective of Welsh culture and identity, providing opportunities for creativity, arts, sport and recreation, boosting tourism opportunities. Our landscapes are connected, healthy and contributing positively to our natural heritage
A Wales of cohesive communities:
People feel more connected to the environment and to each other, have access to quality local green spaces and know where they can go and what they can do there. Traffic accidents are reduced. Communities are involved in local green space design and maintenance, creating desirable places to socialise with each other, instilling local pride, safety and community identity
|The benefits derived from natural resources are being fairly and equitably distributed and the contribution they make to well-being is meeting our basic needs and is not declining now or in the long term||
A more equal Wales:
Local green space is affordable and accessible in our most deprived communities who are also at a greater risk of experiencing impacts from environmental hazards and social exclusion. Local green spaces are safe, connect people, tackle exclusion and boost skills and confidence
Image by Pete Frost
o Reviewing current provision, including funding, and scoping opportunities to work at scale;
o Identifying practical ways to enable the commissioning and delivery of nature-based solutions; and
o Establishing a shared understanding of how nature can make a significant contribution to both preventative and therapeutic physical and mental health interventions
o Ensure that identified interventions are well co-ordinated between agencies and that strong governance and accountability pathways are in place
o Ensure agreed common methodologies are socially just and account for the additional needs of disadvantaged and vulnerable communities
o Identify where and how regional collaboration can build resilience
o Contribute to the development of a common evidence base for nature-based solutions to health inequalities
o Identify mechanisms for effective partnership working arrangements at a larger scale where required (e.g. national policy and strategy)
o Inform public sector asset management, procurement and financial planning practices
o Explore new ways of working and scale up success
A themed network approach was developed collaboratively with key stakeholders in Gwent to be as useful and accessible in terms of involvement and integration as possible and reflects the working arrangements of place. The themed network approach provided a mechanism early on in the Area Statement process to undertake activity through a particular lens. This was useful in allowing stakeholders to progress strands of work without the potential barriers of large or unclear scope.
Significant examples of strategic partnership working in the 'Healthy Active Connected' theme include more meaningful involvement with our public sector partners, such as the Gwent Regional partnership Board, Gwent based Integrated Well-being Networks, Public Health Wales, Public Services Boards and regional partnership projects including the Gwent Green Grid and the Resilient Greater Gwent partnership. We have also worked to integrate this workstream with Aneurin Bevan University Health Board as part of their Building a Healthier Gwent engagement process. Both organisations recognise that there is considerable opportunity for synergy between the Building a Heathier Gwent Strategy and the South East Area Statement.
The outcomes under each of the four strategic themes will deliver the Area Statement vision for South East. While each theme has its own vision for South East, each is part of the same overarching approach to delivering the Sustainable Management of Natural Resources in place.
The South East Area Statement is representative of more collaborative, integrated and involved ways of working. It is a representation of the work we have done in Gwent over the past two years to strengthen the ways we work together differently, within our own organisations and as partners.
In South East, we set out to produce an Area Statement which informs internal and external planning at the appropriate scale and helps stakeholders to consider ways of working together differently when doing so. The Area Statement process is adaptive and will help to explore and shape aspirational ways of working.
Themed networks will continue to focus on working together differently to build ecosystem resilience. Each network will work together to develop a common evidence base as well as facilitate preventative interventions over the longer term.
Image by Come Outside Project
If you would like to get involved in the delivery of the actions listed here, contribute to the developing themed network, or share your own images and stories of how nature has impacted your own health and well-being, please contact us.