NHS SBS teams up with social enterprise Sow the City to revitalise Manchester community wellbeing garden

Leading finance & accounting, digital, procurement and workforce services provider, NHS Shared Business Services has partnered with award winning social enterprise, Sow the City, to restore, renew and rejuvenate a local garden at Cornbrook Medical Practice’s City Road Surgery in Manchester.

The Cornbrook GP surgeries have around 13,000 patients, many of whom are socially isolated with little access to outdoor space. With Sow the City’s help, the Cornbrook Wellbeing Garden was created in 2019 as a space for patients and Hulme residents to relax and feel the benefit of nature, part of a wider NHS England and NHS Improvement (NHSEI) social prescribing agenda.

On Friday 27 May, a team of 20 NHS SBS employees joined forces with Sow the City to volunteer to spruce up this special garden that has the wellbeing of the local community at its heart.

Social prescribing and community-based support – where people receive non-medical help to improve their health and wellbeing, generally through accessing community activities in their local areas – is part of the NHS Long Term Plan commitment to make personalised care business as usual across the NHS, and aligns with NHS SBS’s wider ‘Healthy’ Social Value programme.

Cornbrook Wellbeing Garden provides an opportunity for local people to learn new skills, take part in physical exercise, get access to healthy and free food, and meet new people.

Now, it will benefit more local patients, with food growing activities and the recreational use of the garden recommended by GPs as a means of improving their health and wellbeing.

Jon Ross, Sow the City founder, commented:

“Gardening and in particular food growing has many amazing benefits for health, communities and for the wider environment. To this end, we have worked in various health settings offering social and therapeutic horticulture activities.

“Not only does it benefit service users’ health and wellbeing, it improves community cohesion, connects people with nature, informs them about ethically produced food, builds their carbon literacy and empowers communities to grow and live sustainably.”

Olivia Murphy, Head of Sustainability and Social Impact at NHS SBS, commented:

“Healthy people, planet and business are increasingly important focus areas for us, and the pandemic has spurred us further to support mental and physical health through our organisation’s three paid volunteer days per employee.

“We feel privileged to be able to work alongside Sow the City in our journey to give back to communities through the NHS’s social prescribing programme in Manchester.

“This action in turn provides our people with skills-based volunteering opportunities that can support their own health and wellbeing through being out in nature with others and giving back to the communities we are a part of.

“We are committed to incorporating sustainability into all aspects of our business. Through our established Tech for Good programme, we aim to make our business a force for good by improving social mobility, driving economic growth and promoting diversity.”