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Social Prescribing - supporting people in finding non-clinical solutions to life's problems

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Mike was referred by his GP after presenting with low mood and anxiety, closely related to the death of his brother. There were clearly other practical needs however, as Mike had financial difficulties.

Triage identified inability to cope with utility bills and correspondence, allowing them to build up and add to the cycle of stress.  Still grieving and feeling low and anxious following the death of his brother, Mike no longer received carer’s allowance and he needed help sorting out his benefit entitlements. Having been his brother’s career for twenty years, a keen loss of identity and purpose took hold. In addition to low mood and anxiety, for which he has been prescribed anti-depressants, Michael is also diabetic; he needed to eat properly but wasn’t really looking after himself.

Giving up work two decades ago unsurprisingly made it challenging for him to think about what he could do in the future. His isolation resulted in a lack of confidence and he feels his friends have deserted him.

Mike was initially ‘burying his head in the sand’ and lacked the motivation and confidence to move forward.

But he has moved forward. Although Mike was still beset by these issues, he was receptive to the service and keen to improve his situation. Embarrassed as he was at having to receive support, he recognised his needs.

The Social Prescribing support worker introduced Mike to New Horizons for advice on sorting out his utility bills, setting up payment plans, advice on budgeting and help with applying for grants has been a big step forward. Mike now has direct debits in place. He also has ‘phone numbers to call when he needs to arrange transport to get to benefits assessments and hospital transport for health checks. The support worker also made a grant application to King’s Lynn & West Norfolk Borough Council for a grant for £500-worth of eating oil – Mike didn’t have any hot water and had been boiling kettles to have strip-washes.

Mike also needed help to plan his future, work out what opportunities might be available, and think about what he might want to do. He’d expressed an interest in volunteering at The Hawk and Owl Trust at Sculthorpe Moor and the support worker helped make this happen. Mike has applied, by himself, for a work capability assessment for Employment & Support Allowance.

The arrival of support and help was well-timed. Mike’s support worker explains: ‘I think Mike would have struggled in his previous depressed mood to do the practical things that needed to be done to sort out his debts…with the volunteering in place he now has  away of meeting new people, learning new skills, hopefully all of which will improve his chances of finding employment in the future.’

Read more about Social prescribing in Norfolk here