At the start of 2019, City Hall published a draft document which set out how the Mayor could support the NHS and the voluntary sector to grow social prescribing in London over the next 10 years. Social prescribing links people up with what is going on in their local area, and enables them to access services that meet their wider emotional, physical and social needs. We asked for your views on social prescribing, as part of the feedback to the draft document and received 169 comments. A huge thanks to everyone who took part in our conversation.
Most of you were positive about social prescribing, including those of you who had not heard of it before. Whilst reservations exist, many of you see a definite potential and some of you mentioned you would like to volunteer in the running of such a scheme.
A few of the benefits you mentioned include:
A good way to meet people and combat loneliness
A good way to involve people more in their local communities and increase social cohesion
Some of you mention that this may be a way of taking strain off the NHS
GPs prescribing these activities will mean that people are more likely to attend and find something right for them.
The Next Steps For Social Prescribing has now been published. The document highlights the need for easy access to local provision and how the voluntary sector should be supported to offer the services that Londoners want.
As Next Steps was being developed, the NHS announced important funding to support the growth of social prescribing. They are currently recruiting several new social prescribers across London, and they are also funding posts to support learning and development across the NHS and other organisations, so that social prescribing schemes can share what works well.
Many of your responses to the draft document asked about funding for the (mainly voluntary sector) organisations who provide most of the services. A lot of the referrals will be funded by the NHS, local authorities or charities. In other cases, organisations will apply for grant funding. For example: this year’s Team London small grants programme focused on social prescribing. This programme is now closed for applications but other funding streams such as the National Community Lottery Fund, are also available.
To get involved with social prescribing or volunteering, have a look at what your local authority is offering or check Team London (City Hall’s volunteering programme) for opportunities in your area.
Find out more about social prescribing in the video below, filmed in Merton.