Greener On the Outside for Prisons (GOOP)

GOOP is a health and wellbeing programme that facilitates the delivering of a joined up whole prison approach to nature based and environmental initiatives. These initiatives help the improve the individuals’ health and wellbeing, quality of life, reduce health inequalities and have a positive impact on the drive to reduce reoffending.

Spectrum’s partnership with GOOP specifically explores the connection of mental health with nature, and its’ amazing healing power.

With many people in prison exhibiting behaviours and health needs which relate to past traumatic experiences, research has shown that mindfulness exercises can help focus the attention on the here and now, an important therapeutic tool. Gardening is a classic example of a mindfulness exercise, especially given the seasonal nature of gardening.

There is a distinct link between working in the fresh air, enjoying the outdoors, getting your hands dirty in the soil, or digging and planting, that brings nature alongside physical exercise. Spectrum’s dedicated health promotion workforce can find it hard to motivate sections of the prison population to get moving and to see the benefits of traditional exercise. By linking exercise seamlessly with the natural world and gardening, we are seeing a whole new group of people getting the benefits of working out on the land.

One of the main benefits of gardening is the social interactions it can foster. Studies conducted at community gardens and the work of GOOP behind the prison gate have found that gardening has a significantly positive impact on two key factors linked to poor mental health – loneliness and isolation.

GOOP ensures our healthcare workforce can contribute to the growing body of research backing the idea that gardening has measurable benefits to both mental and physical health. GOOP helps our staff make the link between gardening, nature and horticulture as a therapeutic exercise for our patients.