It’s cold outside and the heavy clouds are signalling that rain is on the way. For some, staying at home would first come to mind, but not for the regulars at Croydon’s NHS Community Pop-in. Come rain or shine, Tuesday 10am to 12pm at Woodside Baptist Church is the place to be. Like many attendees today, *Julie who struggles with her mental health was invited to the pop-in by her Social Prescribing Link Worker, Lynda to make friends. It’s been two years since she started coming and she hasn’t looked back.
As for many people money worries, loneliness, stress from work or family life can be physically and mentally challenging but can’t be cared for just with medication. Social prescribing is when GPs, nurses and other primary care professionals refer their patients, directly or via a Link Worker to non-clinical services in their local area to support and improve their overall health and wellbeing.
As a Social Prescribing Link Worker, Lynda is key to supporting patients to take greater control of their health and wellbeing by adopting a holistic approach to understand what’s important to them and connect them to community groups and services for practical and emotional support. Lynda works with patients early on to prevent their circumstances from worsening, which could result in a need for medical support. Working closely with her patients, Lynda helps them to identify what practical actions they can take to improve their overall situation and how to access local services and community groups.
Launched in 2017, the pop-in is an opportunity for Lynda to have community time with her patients and enable them to access non-clinical services. Also open to the wider public, it offers a time to share what’s happening in the local area and to highlight what help is available from health and social care, befriending services, volunteering opportunities and local interest groups. At the same time the session acts as a central hub for people to meet, socialise and make connections with other locals.
The heating is roaring in the church hall as coffee, tea, cakes and biscuits are served to over 30 residents who are gathered around tables as they eagerly await for this week’s presentation from Croydon’s Healthy Homes. They’re here to share guidance on how to be energy efficient this winter and to make people are aware of grant funding available to help with their bills.
“It’s a pleasure to help residents learn how to manage their energy bills over the winter and make them aware of grant funding that they may be eligible for to help with their bills.”Deborah, Croydon Healthy Homes Advisor.
The pop-in has effortlessly created a mix of practical support with socialising, which has allowed many people to make firm friendships which allows them to explore hobbies and events together outside of the pop-in.
I love working with my patients and in the current climate they need us more than ever. It’s a joy to help people in tough situations and work together to resolve some of the issues they’re facing.”Lynda Graham, Social Prescribing Link Worker.
Recognising that Julie needed more than just medication to help her feel better, her GP referred her to a Social Prescribing Link Worker (Lynda). Over several years Lynda and Julie have spent time together to work out what matters to her the most and identify what services are available to support her. From coffee mornings, walking clubs, group trips to the museum and practical statutory services for housing and employment support, together they’ve built a plan for Julie to get the support she needs to maintain good mental health.
Julie is an extremely popular lady at the pop-in with a welcoming smile and contagious laugh, which naturally draws others in to talk with her. The NHS Community pop- in is where she feels most at home. Here she takes pride in her role as an event coordinator and today she’s signing up attendees up for the upcoming coach tour of central London to see the Christmas lights, which many are eagerly anticipating. Julie said: “This place is just great. I don’t know where I’d be without it.”
Join us at the weekly pop-in:
10am to 12pm
If you’d like to find out more information about getting social prescribing speak with your GP or nurse at your next appointment.
Croydon Healthy Homes is Croydon Council’s free energy advice service aimed at Croydon residents on low incomes, and those more vulnerable to the effects of living in a cold home. For more information visit the Croydon Healthy Homes website.
*Name has been changed to maintain confidentiality