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Our ‘natural health service’ provides wellbeing boost

Our ‘natural health service’ provides wellbeing boost

We have been working with an award-winning employment charity and social enterprise to offer vulnerable people ‘social prescribing’ walks around our 2,000 acres of Parkland and Gardens, to help improve their mental health and wellbeing, helping them move forward with their lives.

Working with Oxfordshire charity Aspire, we have been running regular wellbeing walks every Thursday for groups of 12 people, as part of a six-week programme. Since the walks began in October 2019, over 160 people have benefitted.

The project forms part of one of the five key goals of our long-term land strategy programme.

Roy Cox, Managing Director of Estates, explained:

Our ‘Natural Health Service’ is designed to break down perceived social barriers to places like Blenheim and for our woodlands, green spaces and fresh air to literally be prescribed as one of the most natural solutions for mental and physical health. Our purpose today is to share and protect this place for the future by enhancing the lives of local people and enabling the local economy to thrive and its projects like this, benefiting so many people already, that are core to that.

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Sylvain Richard, Head Guide at Blenheim Palace, has been leading the walks for over two years. He added:

“All humans have issues at some point, we are all trying to understand life and need a little help to sort our problems; there is nothing like getting close to the beauty of nature in Blenheim Palace’s Gardens and Parkland and being inspired by its exceptional history to help clear one’s mind and start a brand-new day; for some a brand new life!

"I am probably the one who’s benefitted the most – it makes me feel fantastic; on my work days I tend to come here early and go for a walk myself before I start work… it sets my head properly for the rest of the day. I love sharing this ‘Natural Health Service’ with as many people as possible!”


Established in 2001, Aspire has been tackling the most complex social issues in Oxfordshire for over 20 years. The charity aims to support vulnerable local people into and towards employment and housing, as the most powerful way to break the complex cycles of homelessness, re-offending and poverty.

Results from the social prescribing pilot found:

    • A 12% increase in participants’ step count
    • Anxiety reduced by 19%
    • 8% increase in happiness
    • Life satisfaction increased by 20%

Paul Roberts, CEO for Aspire Oxford added:

"The wellbeing partnership we have grown together with our friends at Blenheim Estate over the last few years has gone from strength to strength and is such an important part of Aspire's offer to local people experiencing tough times who are seeking to change their lives.

“Our project participants say that they find the walks very rewarding, reducing their stress and anxieties and boosting their sense of self-worth, motivation and happiness."