Social Prescribing – a community response to COVID-19

Posted 16.11.2020

Social prescribing enables GPs, nurses and other primary care professionals to refer people to a range of local, non-clinical services to support their health and wellbeing. But does it work, and how does it fit in with wider health and care policy? The Kings Fund have recently updated their explainer on Social Prescribing.  Social Prescribing does work but needs to be adequately resourced.  It provides a system wide approach and recognises that most people’s health and wellbeing are mostly determined by a range of social, economic and environmental factors.  Read the Kings Fund Explainer .

COVID -19 has had a significant impact on charities in the local community with many reporting reductions in income, increase in workload and rapidly having to adapt to the ‘new normal’ of social distancing, using technology to keep in touch with clients and deliver programmes. According to the September Covid Charity tracker produced by the Pro-Bono Economics, Institute of Fundraisers and the Charity Finance Group:

  • 94% of charities are worried about the impact of the recession on their finances
  • 55% may not be able meet demand for their services over winter
  • 52% have seen public donations fall as a result of Covid19
  • 47% have revised down their financial forecasts since July
  • 43% are cutting jobs, with the biggest cuts falling in service delivery roles

The September Covid Charity tracker report is available here.

In 2019 Stakeholder Managers told you about our work around the social prescribing programme. In our article ‘Why your GP may soon be prescribing you an art class or a walking group’ we highlighted the VCSE involvement in social prescribing but also the need for extra funding to support the sector to deliver grassroots services in the community.

A recent report by the Conservation Volunteers, funded by The National Lottery Community Fund, gave 5 recommendations, which compare with the discussion in our 2019 article. Entitled “A summary of the issues affecting longer-term VCSE funding including views from before and during the COVID-19 pandemic,” the report states that in order to ‘future proof’ social prescribing we need to ensure that:

  1. Any organisations or services that take referrals from social prescribing link workers must receive financial investment for this
  2. Long-term (e.g. five years) core funding for the provision of activities and service in response to referrals must enable appropriate payment for providers of all sizes
  3. All stakeholders must collaborate in a way that increases community capital
  4. Link workers must have the appropriate equipment, support, caseload size and skills to work remotely and support a wider group of people being referred into social prescribing
  5. Everyone should be able to access social prescribing, whether face-to-face or via digital channels

You can find a full copy of the Conservation Volunteers report here.

Social prescribing programmes that link to the wider employment and skills activity in their area can help people into work.  Building Better Opportunities (BBO) in D2N2 works with a wide range of clients who are furthest away from the labour market.  The BBO programme can help those who are starting to consider work, those with long term health conditions, mental and physical health issues, carers, young people and people with multiple and complex needs.

BBO is having a significant impact on individual lives, supporting people to increase their confidence, independence and achieve their employment aspirations.

See what our participants have to say in these case studies …

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