Suffolk & North East Essex Shadow Integrated Care System

Social Prescribing needs full support of voluntary sector

June 2019

The Chief Officer of Community Voluntary Services Tendring, Sharon Alexander, told the STP Board that Social Prescribing will not work unless there is a vibrant voluntary sector behind it.

Social prescribing involves helping patients to improve their health, wellbeing and social welfare by connecting them to community services which might be run by the council or a local charity. For example, signposting people who have been diagnosed with dementia to local dementia support groups.

In North East Essex, there is a joint collaboration between Essex County Council, North East Essex CCG, Community 360 and CVS Tendring aimed at providing wellbeing support for non-medical matters such as; loneliness, anxiety, mental health issues, unemployment, housing, long term health conditions and debt.

Sharon Alexander said: “The service enables people to help themselves or others with appropriate, non-medical support and guidance to help people make positive changes to their personal health and wellbeing.  It also aims to identify and link them into appropriate support in the community as well as help them in developing personal goals focused on what matters.”

Outcomes for individuals include:

•       Healthy living and wellbeing

•       Taking up volunteering

•       Lifestyle advice and weight management

•       Reducing isolation and loneliness

•       Supporting independent living

•       Mobility and home adaptations

•       Help with looking after someone/carers

•       Getting out and about / joining community activities

•       Increasing levels of physical activity

•       Increased financial capability (access to benefits)

In West Suffolk, Haverhill Lifelink supports local people to connect to the many social activities, clubs and groups that are on offer in the community. Participants have access to a range of services such as debt and benefits advice, volunteering opportunities within Haverhill, health and fitness groups, support groups, arts and culture groups, history groups and sports clubs.

In Ipswich and East Suffolk, a two-year grant programme aims to develop and embed local voluntary community support in Ipswich GP practices, building a model that is based on evidence of need and impact.  Work started in December 2008 with Citizens Advice in Ipswich providing ‘Better Together advisors’ in each practice as part of a programme to be rolled out in Ipswich over the next year.