Today (18 March) is International Social Prescribing Day! A day dedicated to highlighting and celebrating how social prescribing keeps communities connected, healthy and engaged. Today (and everyday) we’re highlighting and celebrating the work of our amazing Social Prescribing Team here at York CVS.
Social Prescribing Manager, Christine Marmion-Lennon has written a blog below about the past year, and all that has entailed, including books, bras and tadpoles! You can find out more about an innovative new pilot project with the Community Safety Hub by accessing the podcast below, and follow the links to the Ways to Wellbeing and Primary Care Link Workers webpages to find out more about social prescribing activities across the city.
We’d also like to take this opportunity to say a huge THANK YOU to all the VCSE organisations we have worked with so closely over the last 12 months – we couldn’t do any of this without you!
The Ways to Wellbeing team has moved to a second phase of delivery, focusing on innovation and growing the reach of social prescribing in the city by embedding practitioners in secondary services, where we’ve previously seen gaps in support. The team’s areas of work include improving access to social prescribing across mental health, community safety and hospital discharge.
The Primary Care Link Workers team are social prescribers based in GP surgeries across York, working alongside individuals to get to know them, and ultimately help them improve their health and wellbeing. Often people access their GP for what is primarily a social issue, (e.g. loneliness, isolation, financial problems), social prescribing helps provide individuals with an alternative to medical intervention.
Get in touch:
To access this service and find out more call 01904 437911 or contact your GP surgery to be referred.
Follow us on Twitter: @PrimaryLinks
This podcast contains more information about social prescribing activities in York, and provides an introduction to an innovative pilot project with the Community Safety Hub.
Host: Alex Nicholson, North Yorkshire Police
Speakers: Samantha Jayne Fawcett, Ways to Wellbeing Practitioner, Jennie Cox, Local Area Coordinator, City of York Council, Jill Rawson, North Yorkshire Police.
Books, Bras and Tadpoles
By Christine Marmion-Lennon, Social Prescribing Manager
This month marks the one year anniversary of when we went into our first national lockdown. On March 23 2020, the announcement was made which included unprecedented restrictions for us all. The past twelve months has seen challenges beyond compare, and of course there is still some way to go. However, this approaching anniversary has given me, and the team, an opportunity to reflect on the past year and everything within it.
To ensuring the delivery of food and prescriptions at the height of the Pandemic, delivering cards made by young people in the youth justice system, to ensuring supper is on the doorstep of a lady returning from cancer treatment. As the title of this blog would suggest I feel like we have seen it all. All of this done through our amazing Social Prescribers and in collaboration with organisations like The Carer’s Centre, Changing Lives and Good Gym to name but a few. We worked together with CAY, Foodbanks and pay-as you-feel-cafes to arrange support for families and those most in need. By working together we were able to co-ordinate a joined up response to provide care and support to those who needed it most.
We collaborated with the library and Book Cases For All to have books delivered to people’s doorsteps. One lady receiving weekly welfare calls felt increasing low in mood when she ran out of books to read. A doorstep delivery of ‘who dunnit’ novels raised her spirits immeasurable but also just knowing someone ‘bothered’ reduced the feelings of isolation.
I remember speaking to the Social Prescribing team when the third lockdown was announced in December, and I remember the words being said “These are dark time ahead.” But through these dark days there has also been light; Community, connection, resilience and people. The first national lockdown marked the beginning of a new relationship between Primary Care and the Voluntary and Community Sector. The Primary Care Link Workers acted as a bridge between communities, the VCSE and Primary Care- never had this been more important. It enabled us to address people’s medical, social and emotional concerns together.
Ways to Wellbeing built these strong foundations in Primary Care and has now entered its second phase. Ways to Wellbeing Practitioners are working with Foss Park, York District Hospital and North Yorkshire Police in partnership with the Community Safety Hub. These were identified as areas where links into the voluntary and community sector would not only add capacity but would also provide individuals with more options and choice in relation to their health and wellbeing. As within Primary Care we knew that there would be barriers and challenges and that we would be asking organisations to think and work differently within their day to day role. The Ways to Wellbeing model of delivery remains the same; people continue to be at the centre of our work and we continue to offer a person centred, holistic approach to individuals referred into our service.
When delivering letters to people we were supporting one member of the team got to meet someone they had been speaking to weekly since the Pandemic started. After a social distanced walk round the garden the lady revealed her love of nature and how much she would value having tadpoles in her pond. An hour later a member of the team returned with a bucket of water and some tadpoles. Leaving the lady feeling very happy with her new Tadpoles but also feeling she had been heard and that someone cared about what was important to her.
We supported one lady who was living alone and shielding and had damaged her wrist, the assumption was that she would be struggling to access food. However through conversations with the team she explained that due to her wrist she had been unable to remover her bra and was having to sleep in it, this in turn was causing sores on her back that were becoming increasingly painful. As a team we had the time to investigate how we could help her and found a contraption perfect for the job that could be delivered to her door. What mattered to her was getting that bra off, everything else she had under control.
As we look to the future we will be asking the question: How can Social Prescribing help people as they begin to venture back into the community? How can we support individuals to reconnect to people and places after months of isolation? How can we build resilience both in individuals and the communities around them? I am sure that the answer will involve strong cross-sector relationships working together to make this possible.
Meet York’s Social Prescribing Team! Top row: Sylvie Simonds, Abbie Myers, Samantha Fawcett, Christine Marmion-Lennon. Second row: Vicki Bell, Lucy Kitson, Holly Firth-Davies, Catherine Claudius-Cole. Bottom row: Heidi Moon, Toni Dutton, Jasmine Howard, Anna Harrison. Logos: Ways to Wellbeing and Primary Care Link Workers.