Thrive Edinburgh – Physical Activity and Greenspaces

Thrive Edinburgh – Physical Activity and Greenspaces

To improve the mental health and wellbeing of people in Edinburgh by delivering a range of services and programmes to support the delivery of the Thrive Welcome Team and Thrive Collectives

Thrive Collective

The Thrive Physical Activity & Greenspaces Collective partners (ELGT, Edinburgh Leisure, SAMH & Cyrenians) have come together to support people experiencing poor mental health.

The aim being to prevent or delay the need for more intensive support by enabling people to develop their own meaningful activities using greenspaces. By providing these opportunities we will help people to stay well. For more information on Thrive Edinburgh see here

The initiative will involve working with our contacts in the different localities across the city to promote meaningful activities for people with mental health conditions through the use of their local greenspaces. We will be working with the Wellbeing Hub teams and other agencies to develop a process of referrals and information sharing. This will involve promoting the benefits of greenspace at community hubs including local GP practices and community centres to help engage with the hard to reach groups.

For an interactive map of all services offered through the Physical Activity & Greenspace collective, see here

We are committed to ensuring that everyone has the opportunity to get active and connect with their natural environment to protect their physical and mental health.

Greenspaces provide health benefits, encourage physical activity, provide spaces for socialising, decrease noise and air pollution and improve immune function. Exposure to the natural environment is psychologically restorative and can protect against mood disorders, depression, anxiety and stress.

As part of this collective, ELGT will be offering the following activities:

Walking Groups
There are weekly walking groups, running for up to one hour, in each of the localities which will be suitable for a range of abilities. Walking provides an accessible way to get active outdoors and increases social connections and facilitates peer support. It allows participants to connect with nature, to spot local wildlife, learn about native plants and experience the changing seasons. The walking groups are particularly suited to people new to physical activity or those who have had little exposure to outdoor activities. The group sizes are small, approximately 6 people, which encourages the participants to gain new friendships.  It also helps to reduce isolation and provide timely and appropriate interventions which promote recovery.  The routes include sites with a heritage interest that can be used to help with cultural bridging. We are also keen to get volunteers involved who could become walk leaders. Here is a list of the walking groups currently running:

Mondays – Redhall walking group 10-11am

Tuesdays – Oxgangs walking group 1.30-2.30pm

Wednesdays – Morningside walking group 10-11am

Thursdays – Bangholm walking group 1-2pm

Fitness Groups

There are jogging and fitness groups, running for up to one hour, in Greenspaces around Edinburgh. Jogging is a great outdoor activity for people who are keen to improve their fitness outdoors and take it to the next level. It is a more vigorous form of exercise which encourages the body to release endorphins that help to combat stress and promote calmness. We also offer fitness and boxercise classes which improve confidence and is great fun. Here are the current fitness groups:




Conservation Activities
There are conservation activities, running for 2 hours per session. These are spread across the localities and the programme changes with the seasons including practical activities such as path clearing and tree planting – widening access to nature and improving the biodiversity of local greenspaces. Here is a list of the current conservation groups:


Woodland Programmes

The activities would follow the award-winning Branching Out programme that has been running since 2010 which is recognised by mental health professionals as delivering successful interventions. These will be run in suitable local woodlands which offer a safer and accessible environment. Each session run for 3hrs which involves a range of activities including tree I.D., environmental art, green exercise and relaxation.

People are referred onto the programmes which have a maximum of 12 participants. Once they have completed the programme as part of the celebration event we will invite local groups who offer regular activities to promote their work and encourage the participants to volunteer. We encourage the participants to explore their local greenspaces and to take an active role in their local community. We would also signpost them to other community groups that they could join which will include friends of groups. 

Royal Edinburgh Hospital

ELGT ran Woodland Activities  programmes in the grounds of the Royal Edinburgh Hospital. This involves one group of outpatients and another group of inpatients. It has been a pleasure to work with such enthusiastic and engaged groups of participants, and to work alongside the occupational therapists who support the patients. The group have been taking part in outdoor-based activities including identifying and measuring trees, creating woodland mandalas, working with clay and willow, taking part in a birdwatching walk and a herbal medicine walk.


If you would like to find our more information then please contact

Funded by: Edinburgh Health & Social Care Partnership


Each year to deliver the following

  • 96 Conservation sessions for 160 participants
  • 48 Woodland (Branching Out) sessions for 48 participants
  • 200 Walking sessions for 48 participants
  • 96 Jogging sessions for 48 participants


  • Deliver activities that encourage and build resilient communities by using local greenspaces
  • Deliver meaningful activities that are convenient and easily accessible throughout the city.
  • Enable participants to learn new skills to build their confidence
  • Provide activities that are enjoyable and enable people to come together at their own pace in an open environment.
  • Encourage people to lead healthier active lives through participating in physical activities for all abilities in their local greenspaces to help improve their self-esteem.
  • Enabling participants to link up with local community groups so they can continue to participate sustainably