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GroundsWell: Community-engaged and data-informed systems transformation of Urban Green and Blue Space for population health – a new initiative

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  • Ruth F. Hunter
  • Sarah E. Rodgers
  • Jeremy Hilton
  • Mike Clarke
  • Leandro Garcia
  • Catherine Ward-Thompson
  • Rebecca Geary
  • Mark A. Green
  • Ciaran O'Neil
  • Alberto Longo
  • Rebecca Lovell
  • Alex Nurse
  • Benedict W. Wheeler
  • Sarah Clement
  • Rich Mitchell
  • Ben Barr
  • John Barry
  • Sarah Bell
  • Dominic Bryan
  • Ian Buchan
  • Olly Butters
  • Tom Clemens
  • Natallie Clewley
  • Rhiannon Corcoran
  • Lewis Elliott
  • Geraint Ellis
  • Cornelia Guell
  • Anna Jurek-Loughrey
  • Frank Kee
  • Aideen Maguire
  • Simon Maskell
  • Brendan Mutargh
  • Grahame Smith
  • Timothy Taylor
  • Ruth Jepson
  • GroundsWell Consortiun -
Article number237
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>20/09/2022
<mark>Journal</mark>Wellcome Open Research
Number of pages13
Publication StatusPublished
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Natural environments, such as parks, woodlands and lakes, have positive impacts on health and wellbeing. Urban Green and Blue Spaces (UGBS), and the activities that take place in them, can significantly influence the health outcomes of all communities, and reduce health inequalities. Improving access and quality of UGBS needs understanding of the range of systems (e.g. planning, transport, environment, community) in which UGBS are located. UGBS offers an ideal exemplar for testing systems innovations as it reflects place-based and whole society processes, with potential to reduce non-communicable disease (NCD) risk and associated social inequalities in health. UGBS can impact multiple behavioural and environmental aetiological pathways. However, the systems which desire, design, develop, and deliver UGBS are fragmented and siloed, with ineffective mechanisms for data generation, knowledge exchange and mobilisation. Further, UGBS need to be co-designed with and by those whose health could benefit most from them, so they are appropriate, accessible, valued and used well.
This paper describes a major new prevention research programme and partnership, GroundsWell, which aims to transform UGBS-related systems by improving how we plan, design, evaluate and manage UGBS so that it benefits all communities, especially those who are in poorest health. We use a broad definition of health to include physical, mental, social wellbeing and quality of life. Our objectives are to transform systems so that UGBS are planned, developed, implemented, maintained and evaluated with our communities and data systems to enhance health and reduce inequalities.
GroundsWell will use interdisciplinary, problem-solving approaches to accelerate and optimise community collaborations among citizens, users, implementers, policymakers and researchers to impact research, policy, practice and active citizenship. GroundsWell will be shaped and developed in three pioneer cities (Belfast, Edinburgh, Liverpool) and their regional contexts, with embedded translational mechanisms to ensure that outputs and impact have UK-wide and international application.