NHS Charities Together is a proud partner involved in shaping the growth of social prescribing, as £5million is awarded by The Department of Health and Social Care to The National Academy of Social Prescribing. This funding is to connect people with community activities and improve their wellbeing. The press release below contains the details in full.

£5 MILLION AWARDED FOR SOCIAL PRESCRIBING TO HELP TACKLE LONELINESS AND IMPROVE PHYSICAL ACTIVITY

  • Funding will support local community partnerships, innovation, and improve evidence
  • Social prescribing will help patients during the pandemic and into the future to tackle loneliness and improve wellbeing
  • Social prescribing link workers recognised as playing central role during coronavirus response for those who are vulnerable and shielded

The National Academy for Social Prescribing has been awarded £5 million in funding to help people stay connected, feel supported and maintain their health and wellbeing during the pandemic response and into the future.

The Academy will enable more people to get involved in community activities for health and wellbeing by connecting them with the arts, physical activities, financial wellbeing and the environment. It funds and supports innovative local community partnerships, improving evidence, share good practice and raise the profile of social prescribing link workers (SPLW), who work as part of the NHS, to connect people to community support in their local areas.

During the pandemic, GPs have been working with social prescribing link workers to support their patients to build resilience and take control of their health and wellbeing, based on what matters to them – both during this crisis and for the future.

Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock said:

“As we begin to support the move out of lockdown, social prescribing will be key to help people recover and rebuild their lives, particularly for those who are vulnerable or have had to shield.

“GPs and social prescribing link workers have been working incredibly hard to support their patients through this challenging time and this funding will be important to support people to remain connected with their local community, reduce loneliness and improve their wellbeing.”

Social prescribing link workers are playing an important role in the primary and community response during the pandemic. They have adapted their roles to work remotely and are continuing to manage existing social prescribing caseloads as well as supporting patients from who are shielding and other vulnerable patients, by:

  • Conducting welfare telephone and/or video calls.
  • Coordinating medication delivery/pick up with pharmacists.
  • Facilitating community support (such as food and shopping) for patients
  • Connecting people to statutory and community support to meet social and emotional needs.
  • Giving people hope and a new mindset to see new possibilities.
  • Supporting voluntary organisations and community groups to develop virtual support offer and creative solutions for people who lack digital skills or access.
  • Supporting patients to use digital platforms to stay connected.
  • Extended their offer by working with local volunteers and NHS Volunteer Responders

An example of the vital support that link workers provide can be found in the case of Robin who lives in Barnsley. Robin had no family or friends, no telephone, no food and no way of getting out due to the operation he had undergone. He was reported as suffering poor Mental Health and generally in low mood. Due to his desperation Robin had put a letter in his window asking for help with his shopping. Unfortunately, this had resulted in someone taking his money and not returning with the goods. However, through the help of the social prescribing link worker assigned to Robin and adhering to Covid-19 guidelines, he is visited by the worker, arrangements have been made to ensure he receives food and medication, and applications have been made for him to receive ongoing support from social services.

Chief Executive Officer of the National Academy for Social Prescribing, James Sanderson said:

“Now more than ever, the pandemic has shown the value of social prescribing in helping people to stay connected, feel supported and to maintain their wellbeing. The National Academy for Social Prescribing has an ambitious agenda to support people to live the best life they can by accessing support in their local communities based on what matters to them. We will be working with key partners across national and local government, the NHS, and the voluntary and community sector to build the support structures necessary to enable social prescribing to thrive.”

Social Prescribing is a core part of the NHS approach to delivering targeted Personalised Care and is currently being expanded across England and the National Academy for Social Prescribing is a new independent organisation, launched in October 2019, to promote social prescribing and create a ‘social revolution in wellbeing’.

Working with partners, including the Arts Council England, Natural England, Money and Pensions Service, NHS Charities Together, Sport England and NHS England will enable the Academy to increase funding and support for local community activities, including improving green space, using dance to reduce falls, providing access to physical activity and increasing access to debt advice.

While their primary focus remains supporting people to look after their wellbeing and find new ways to remain socially connected to their local community, they have also been connecting people to volunteers to help with tasks such as shopping and prescription delivery. Since the start of lock-down they have successfully linked over 500 people to volunteer support.