CAN's innovative social prescribing work recognised at international awards ceremony

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Disclaimer: Community Action Norfolk is no longer leading the delivery for Social Prescribing in Norfolk. To find out more about Social Prescribing in Norfolk please click here.

CAN reached the finals of the awards in recognition of its expertise in launching a successful Social Prescribing project, understanding the variety of skills and experience available in the county’s voluntary and community sector, and setting realistic objectives.

Chief Executive Jon Clemo explains

“Recognising that people’s health is affected by a range of different social, economic and environmental factors, social prescribing works by helping individuals to take greater control of their own health. Often, the path to good health is not necessarily through medication of long-term dependence, but through engaging in activities that support social, emotional and practical needs.”

The idea is that GPs, nurses and other frontline care professionals, rather than prescribing medication or formal treatment,  refer people to a ‘link worker’ who helps who helps direct the person to the right community-based, non-clinical services charity or community group that can best help and support their needs. And those solutions might include volunteering, arts activities, adult education, gardening, befriending, cookery, healthy eating advice or physical activity.

“A good example might be someone who visits their GP because they are anxious or depressed, perhaps because they’re worried about personal debt, caring for a family member, or feeling lonely – any of which can be very debilitating” said Mr Clemo. 

“If the underlying causes can be treated better through a non-clinical piece of advice or support it may have a better outcome. That can involve engaging with other people and activities in the community. And the word ‘community’ is important because it helps people improve their health and wellbeing in familiar local surroundings. Ultimately it’s about empowering people by encouraging them to find their own pathway towards better health and wellbeing.”

CAN co-ordinates social prescribing in the West Norfolk and Breckland areas, working with over twenty GP practices and partner organisations including Age UK Norfolk, Family Action Swaffham, Future Projects, Home Group Ltd., The Matthew Project, West Norfolk Carers and West Norfolk Mind.

Social Prescribing is a growing movement, with the potential to reduce the financial burden on the NHS, particularly within primary care. CAN is managing the delivery in West Norfolk and Breckland through partners Age UK Norfolk, Family Action, Future Projects, Home Group Limited, The Matthew Project, West Norfolk Carers and West Norfolk Mind, working with more than twenty GP practices; in other areas of the county, such as North and South Norfolk, it’s run by the District Councils.

“We’re really honoured that our – and our partners’ work – has been recognised by being shortlisted at the International Social Prescribing Awards” added Mr Clemo “not least because it raises public awareness of Social Prescribing in the Norfolk and the work that is being undertaken by all agencies involved in its delivery across the county.”