Today we celebrate International Social Prescribing Day – a day recognising and promoting the fantastic work being achieved to support individuals and communities through the route of social prescribing.
You might be asking, 'what is social prescribing?' Well, it’s a means of empowering link workers – sometimes referred to as community navigators – to work with people and help them find local, non-clinical, opportunities to help them cope with whatever issue they may be facing at that time. Most link workers are hosted in the third sector but also work in primary care settings, like a GP surgery.
This week also marks a year since the country began experiencing restrictions due to the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic. And this past year has seen people face huge challenges personally, socially, and professionally – clearly, the world has changed.
The impact of coronavirus
One consequence of coronavirus has been the magnification and growth of health and social inequalities across the country. We’ve all found this tough, but many communities and individuals have faced larger challenges that have required extra support to just get by.
The bringing together of these two moments in the same week seems strangely appropriate. Individuals and communities are needing more support, and social prescribing has shown that it’s one way of doing this.
But why are we interested in this and what role do we have to play?
We’ve been developing our thinking around social prescribing for a few years now. You’ll have hopefully noticed that in Uniting the Movement, our new 10-year vision to transform lives and communities through sport and physical activity, we’ve committed to working with our partners on ‘connecting to health and wellbeing’ and supporting ‘connected communities’ – two of our five big issues. These are neatly brought together through the platform of social prescribing.
To begin doing this, we’ve invested through our place-based working, particularly in our local delivery pilots, in social prescribing resource and capacity so that more and more opportunities can be co-created with communities, and to increase the number of conversations that can be had with individuals about being more physically active.