Social prescribing supports people to take control of their health and wellbeing within the community. Last year the service supported 2,701 people in Wandsworth.
Taking a holistic approach to health and wellbeing, social prescribing link workers offer support with things like managing stress, physical activity, loneliness and finding social groups. They also signpost people to ways of learning new skills and accessing information on employment, benefits, housing and legal advice.
For full-time carer, Xavier, the pandemic has been a lonely and difficult time. Caring for his 78-year-old mother, while managing his own health conditions was taking its toll – plus living in temporary accommodation meant his housing situation was becoming stressful.
“I was surrounded by problems at that time,” he said. “I was really worried about my health, my mum’s health and I had concerns about our accommodation. I lost my home and social contacts, and I had a 78-year-old woman to look after. I was really worried.”
Xavier was referred by his GP to social prescribing link worker, Begona Carbia from Brocklebank Primary Care Network (PCN).
“We spoke a lot about all these problems,” says Xavier. “She gave me advice about what I can do and how I can manage these issues. She contacted the housing department for me, and it was a great help.”
Begona also put him in touch with local agencies that could offer legal help, including Citizen’s Advice and Shelter. She even helped him get a wheelchair for his mum, a seemingly small thing which had become a big deal. Most of all though, Begona was there for Xavier, helping him change his way of thinking to solve problems that had seemed insurmountable.
In Wandsworth the service is provided by Enable Leisure and Culture, whose work has just been recognised with a national accolade – Social Prescribing Programme of the Year at the Link Worker Day 2021 Awards. Commissioned by the NHS in Wandsworth, the service operates in GP practices across the borough alongside specialist link workers, experienced in adult social care, mental health, cancer services and young people.
Enable’s programme has a strong emphasis on reducing social disparities and reaching out to under-represented groups. Its results show a long-term impact on physical and mental wellbeing with 67% of participants sustaining changes they made for more than 12 months. Some 84% saw improvements to their wellbeing and 60% have improved their quality of life.