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The Green Gym

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01. Summary

The Green Gym programme was developed to help people keep fit as well as provide opportunities for individuals to gain training in horticulture and improve their job prospects.

It is delivered in partnership with local agencies to promote activities using local green spaces, such as nature reserves, allotments and community gardens. Doctors also refer patients onto local green gym schemes via the exercise referral scheme.

02. Outline

The Green Gym programme is a national programme run under franchise through the British Trust for Conservation Volunteers.

In the North East, Groundwork manages and delivers the programme in South Tyneside and Newcastle in partnership with the local primary care trusts, South Tyneside Council, Newcastle City Council, the British Trust for Conservation Volunteers and Job Centre Plus.

The programme is designed to help people relax, provide mental health benefits as well as getting individuals involved in physical activity to get fit. It is available to anyone over 18 years old and in all weather the volunteers’ plant trees, weed beds, trim hedges and clear unsightly areas to restore them for the local community to use. During activities many volunteers use heart monitors to show how hard they are working and to keep their work at a steady pace.

The volunteers who attend a green gym benefit from improved fitness, health and self confidence. It is also a fun way to learn new skills.

03. Cost & Funding

The Green Gym projects in South Tyneside and Newcastle costs £160,000 per annum to run and has attracted funding from the Neighbourhood Renewal Fund, Adult and Community Learning Fund, the Local Initiative Fund and Community Foundation.

04. Timescales

The project started in August 2005 and is still running.

05. Lessons Learned

A key learning point from this programme was recognising the importance of being clear about how to recruit volunteers, and which organisations are best placed to refer these volunteers on to the Green Gym from the start.

Before approaching volunteers, potential partners need to commit to working together to promote the project. Forming a steering group and having regular meetings is a good way to do this. This provides a forum to develop the project and to effectively manage issues that may arise more efficiently.

06. Contacts

For more information about Green Gym please contact Groundwork North East.–newcastle/what-we-do/major-initiatives/green-gym.aspx

T: 0191 428 1144



North East


Active, Inclusive and Safe