By Sam Fawcett, Ways to Wellbeing Practitioner

9am: The Early Bird

9am: My day starts at York Medical Group’s Acomb Road Surgery. Some of my clearest thinking happens in the morning, so that’s when I like to do my practical tasks and organising, including emails and scheduling. I’m also part time, so I have a lot to pack into a day.  I get some admin done before my clients are due to arrive. I started working with York Medical Group based at their Acomb Road Surgery. Now that things are up and running, I’m expanding my appointments to cover another surgery, too.

10am: Coffee, conversation and clients

My first client is at 10am. I’ve met them three times previously.  They were referred to me after a bereavement, as they were struggling to get back to work.  I referred them to Grainne, who runs a project called Workplace Wellbeing.  Last time the three of us met to explore Grainne offering support about workplace mental health. Today my client tells me they are back at work. They feel things are going well, but they also don’t want to get overwhelmed.  We talk about self-care. I give them one of our self-care kits – they are bags of items donated by companies, other charities, and created by our Ways to Wellbeing volunteers. My client cries – it means a lot to be given a gift and supported to take good care of yourself. This sparks a conversation about relaxation. We decide to meet again to look at groups they could join which might help with their return to work. I quickly type up my notes, and pack up my things…

11am: Home visit: considering options over a cuppa

We don’t often do home visits, but sometimes people really struggle to get out due to anxiety, low confidence or physical health needs.  Today at 11am I’m meeting someone who is isolated because of their mobility issues and confidence.  It is great to have the option to see people at home if they really need it. We also meet clients out in the community and accompany them to an appointment or group to try it out for the first time.

My client is an isolated older person.  It’s our first appointment, so I just take some time to get to know her.  I learn a lot about her life and we discuss areas she might need help with. Her family have all moved away. Although she speaks to people on the phone often, she doesn’t see many people day to day.  I tell her about Good Gym, an amazing charity which pairs runners who need extra motivation to get out with isolated older people who become their Coaches.  Runners run to their Coaches house, have a cup of tea and a chat, and then run home. My client says she will think about this.

We also discuss how she previously enjoyed working in a school helping young people. I’ve spotted that Acomb Explore Library has volunteering opportunities to help people with reading practise over the Summer. I leave my client with the details to consider her options.  We book in another chat to catch up.

 1pm: Sharing is caring – getting creative with candles

1pm: I’ve organised a candle making workshop for our Self Care kits with some of our volunteers.  We meet at a community venue and start planning the afternoon over a cup of coffee and fruit. The workshop is about much more than just crafts:

  • One of the volunteers comments that it is just so nice to have more reasons to get out of the house.
  • One volunteer says that having a craft to focus on helps to distract them from stressful things going on in their lives.
  • Another says it’s important that the group has a positive focus on giving back and helping others, not just on getting together to take turns discussing problems.

People do share though.  The volunteers chat as we stick on labels and melt the wax. They discuss coping strategies and how they manage their long term health conditions.  They share tips.

One of our volunteers uses some illustrated cards to communicate when they become fatigued, overwhelmed and anxious. Two other volunteers decide to order some themselves.  Sharing practical tips like this helps people to stay independent and manage their physical and mental health more effectively. This means they find support in the community rather than going back to their GP repeatedly.

The workshop is also an opportunity for people to try out volunteering.  They are having fun crafting, but they’re also passing that enjoyment and care to someone else through the self-care kits.

After the workshop, I take the 60 candles we made back to the office. When the kits are finished, we share these with our clients at their final appointment with us.  After a last quick check of my e-mails and voicemails, I am done for the day at 5:30.

6pm: Self-care: practicing what we preach! 

I am at the gym at 6pm.  I try hard to practise what I preach in my day to day work.  I suffer from anxiety, so exercise is great to destress. Bringing personal lessons to my job helps me to empathise.  Our team tries to experience as much as possible of what we share with our clients. We aim to model self-care, so we know what it’s like to really do the things we talk about day to day. This is one of the reasons I love working for Ways to Wellbeing.

Want to find out more about our social prescribing project? Follow Ways to Wellbeing on Twitter @W2Wyork or click here.