Art’s Story- Social Prescribing

Art was born in Jamaica and lives in Birmingham with his son and his wife. In 2019, he had an accident at work that caused him both physical pain and mental instabilities, which he still experiences today.

Art, who sustained neck and back injuries, was initially given some physical therapy treatment but this was put on hold during the pandemic. Due to his injury and Covid-19, Art had been feeling isolated and was also struggling with pain, anxiety and stress.

In summer 2021, whilst at an appointment for his pain, Art’s doctor introduced him to Leila, one of our Social Prescribing Link Workers who works in East Birmingham.

“She [doctor] said would you be interested in meeting our Social Prescriber, and opened the door and introduced Leila to me. That’s where it started, my recovery started there.”

Leila connected Art to some of the groups we run that would support his physical and mental health and enable him to meet others, such as a Walk and Talk Group, where Art had the opportunity to become physically active, share his experiences and listen to others.

“We walk 6, 7, 8 km per week. While you walk in park you have the opportunity to become physical (through exercise) and you’re sharing experiences and listening to other people. You become absent form society by being at home, being sick. This is a step by step reintroduction to society.”

“The coaches [TAWS staff]… they will talk to you, encourage you, share experiences with you. They will assess you in terms of the milage you go, [for example] ‘a week ago you did this [distance], now you’re doing this.’ It makes you know you’re getting there.”

As Art’s physical health improved, we enabled him to get a referral to a local gym, where now he does low impact exercises and swimming.

Being a part of the group has helped Art as he has met other people with similar experiences to his. At each session, the group share experiences, laugh and chat.

“I’ve been given the opportunity to go to a group with people who have similar experiences like mine. Who were also willing to share them.”

Art said that the support he has received from Leila and the groups he has joined have helped him mentally, with his outlook on life and opened up his world again. He now accepts that he is not the same person he was in 2019, and that is crucial for him to be able to recover.

“I am now coming to terms with the reality that I had an accident, it wasn’t my fault, stop beating yourself up, you’re still alive. I start looking at the positives.”

“Leila has a team of people around her [TAWS] – even when she’s not there her presence is felt. They’ve [TAWS] got the right spirit, attitude and they care about you not as a patient but as an individual… They assist you to be able to see it [your problem] clearer. To cope with it more. They give you the encouragement and confidence to say, ‘yes you are getting there’.”

Art is keen to share his story and about how the support from Leila and the walking group is helping him to recover, in a way that medicine hasn’t been able to, in the hope that it will help others.

“I would like to be able to share with others so that I can be a testimony to others, because amidst all of this uncertainty there is somewhere you can go to in your community where you can socialise with people, who will listen, people who will share related issues, experiences, to give you a warmth, to make you understand whatever you’re going through you’re not alone.”

“I would like someone else who’s having the same problem like I do, to have the opportunity like I’ve been given by Leila. To do the things that the medicine weren’t able to accomplish.”

In addition to walking groups, we run a range of different social and physical activities that support communities across Birmingham to improve their overall wellbeing and resilience. To find out more about the activities we can offer, or our Social Prescribing Service, visit our website.

Catherine Ball
Author: Catherine Ball