I’m Jackie, a Social Prescribing Link Worker within Weoley and Rubery PCN in South Birmingham and The Active Wellbeing Society (TAWS).
In April 2021, I set up the Cotteridge Park Walking Group, to support patients who were experiencing issues including isolation, loneliness, anxiety and depression. The group is now made up of five regular members.
One member of our group, Maisie, had not been out of the house, other than short walks near her home, since the start of the pandemic due to concern and anxiety around the virus, so attending the group was a major step for her. Initially Maisie was quite worried about being around other people as she had not been in a shop, on public transport or mixed with other people since March 2020. Maisie said that the walking group has been a lifeline for her and helped with loneliness.
I contacted the Friends of Cotteridge Park Group and they offered to open up their community café each week after our walk, which meant that the group could sit and socialise. This led to Joy, another member of our group, chatting to one of the café volunteers about the crochet she had started doing. From this conversation, a small offshoot crochet and knitting group began which is very informal and takes place immediately after our walk. Joy said,
“The group has now given me a purpose in life and has had a big positive impact on my mental health.”
Another member, Adam, was not familiar with the park, but says the group has enabled him to discover one of Birmingham’s green spaces and is keen to discover more. He now regularly goes out cycling to discover new parks and reports his finds back to the group.
The group have bonded well and are now in the process of setting up a picnic outside of the walking group one weekend in the park. Members of the group have formed friendships and swapped phone numbers, and the group has improved patients’ levels of isolation, loneliness, fitness and overall wellbeing.
Social Prescribing Link Workers connect people to activities in their local communities, from walking groups, to seated exercise sessions and stress management courses. To find out more about our Social Prescribing Programme, visit our website.