Prescribe Heritage Highland – Delivering cultural and nature-based programmes to promote health and wellbeing and address health disparities in the Highlands of Scotland.

As part of the Mobilising Community Assets to Tackle Health Inequalities research programme, the University of the Highlands and Islands Division of Rural Health and Wellbeing investigated how heritage and cultural assets can be used to support health and wellbeing in rural areas, where social isolation, deprivation and mental health issues can be hidden.

“Prescribe Heritage as a social prescribing approach could appeal to a different audience and engage people who might not take up other prescribing opportunities.” – NHS Partner

With partners High Life Highland and Museums and Heritage Highland, weekly activity sessions were developed in 8 local museums and archive centres, and referral pathways established through which people could be directed to them. The research identified challenges to this way of working in rural settings, including transport to activities, and awareness of heritage and museums-based social prescribing. However, as a result of the project, new partnerships were developed between the NHS and the heritage sector, mental health awareness and training was increased for staff and volunteers in the museums, and new approaches to measuring impact were developed. Moving forward, these partners will continue to co-produce heritage-based social prescribing initiatives.

“It’s really about extending the reach of heritage to new groups, new types of people, people with different situations. Heritage and museums, traditionally appeal to a very narrow section of the community … it’s just trying to make heritage something that’s more widely appreciated and encouraged.” – Museums partner

The research project took as its model, the successful Prescribe Culture programme developed at the University of Edinburgh, which provides heritage engagement interventions co-designed to support students, and the wider local population, feeling the impact of loneliness and/or struggling with mental health difficulties.

Follow this link to see a short video produced by the Prescribe Heritage Highland Programme.

Photo Credit: Hannah Ayre © Prescribe Culture
Photo Credit: Hannah Ayre © Prescribe Culture