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Executive Leader Cllr Brenda Warrington

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Councillor Brenda Warrington, Executive Leader of Tameside Council

Could You Benefit From Social Prescribing?

Wednesday, 09 March 2022

If you asked our residents what they considered our most important public services to be, I would be willing to bet that health and social care would come top of their list. Throughout the past two years as we have battled the coronavirus pandemic, our workforce of doctors, nurses, carers and other health and social care professionals have gone above and beyond the call of duty again and again to protect the most vulnerable in our communities.

Unfortunately, the impact of both the pandemic and over a decade of austerity means that these vital services are under pressure as never before. It is clear that trying to carry out the same work with diminishing resources and growing waiting lists is no longer an option, but we must continue to make sure that health and social care is always available for those who need it. An important tool for achieving both of these aims is something known as “social prescribing”. Since this Thursday sees us celebrate Social Prescribing Day, I want to take the opportunity to explain what it is and how it might be able to help you or somebody you know.

 

The idea behind social prescribing is simple. Instead of sending people straight to a GP or hospital, we instead look to see if there are ways we can help them outside of traditional clinical settings. Social prescribing recognises that every person’s needs and requirements are unique, that many of the economic, social and environmental factors that affect our health cannot be cured by medicine alone, and that prevention is almost always better than cure. The evidence shows that social prescribing schemes have been effective nationwide in improving people’s health and wellbeing while simultaneously reducing the pressure on NHS services.

For a simple example of how social prescribing works in Tameside and to show its potential to transform people’s lives, I want to tell you about Jane. Jane came to our local Social Prescribing team complaining of feeling isolated and alone. Not only did Jane’s social prescribing link worker Sue provide her with a list of activities within the borough, she also accompanied Jane on her first visit to a local walking group. Since then, Jane has joined a number of other social clubs including art and design, allotment work and some, such as sailing, that she never believed she would have been able to do. In Jane’s own words, social prescribing has made a “massive world of difference” to her life and mental health.

But Jane is by no means the only Tameside resident that has experienced the benefits of social prescribing. In 2021 our social prescribing team worked with 1,507 people, completing 2,027 signposting and referral actions to 312 different activities and groups in the community. Of these, 56 people were referred to the volunteering team of local charity Action Together, 211 were signposted to groups in the community to help them gain employment, education and skills, and 626 were connected with social activities such as coffee mornings and arts and craft groups. These numbers are more than just statistics. Each one of them represents an individual whose life has been improved for the better. None of it would have been possible without the tireless efforts of our social prescribing workers, and the local groups and charities who have welcomed residents referred to them with open arms.  

 

If you’re in a situation that you think is negatively affecting your mental or physical health and think social prescribing may be able to help you, please get in touch with Action Together on 0161 830 6833, by e-mailing socialprescribing@actiontogether.org.uk, or by asking your GP, nurse or other health professional for a referral. Over the next year I commit to working closely with health professionals, charities and local communities and residents to make sure social prescribing is available to all those who require it as we look to build back better, fairer and greener in Tameside.
 

Posted by: Executive Leader