Joe works in Finance, but as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, he was furloughed and then later made redundant. This meant he had a lot of time on his hands and often felt stuck at home.
He visited his GP for a routine diabetes check-up and as part of the review, the Doctor referred Joe to Grace, a Social Prescribing Link Worker at The Active Wellbeing Society (TAWS). Grace held a triage conversation with Joe to find out what support he needed, then invited him to join one of TAWS’ local social walking groups, to help him manage his weight and build social connections. Jo explained,
‘I was referred to this walk by my surgery, which is Moseley, as part of the weight loss programme because I’m diabetic. And because of lockdown as well and I was not doing anything. The idea was to get me doing something.’
Joe really enjoys being part of the walking group and the regular routine it has created. ‘It helps my mental wellbeing because I look forward to this every Tuesday. I live alone. So, I come out and we have a little, you know, we have a banter, we have a good laugh.’
He explained that he feels as though he can only go out walking when he’s part of the group, ‘some of us cannot come out and do this alone. I only do it with this group, that’s it.’ When he’s with them he doesn’t feel fazed by the weather or feel like he’s exercising. He explained, ‘you don’t feel it because you look forward to seeing this family, if I should use the word, because they have become like family to me.’
Since joining the walking group, Joe has lost one stone in weight and his diabetes has improved. ‘My blood sugar was between twelve, fourteen, whatever, now it’s between seven and nine. Same medication, but now it’s between seven and nine.’ Sally, the Community Delivery Worker who leads the sessions, pushes the group to walk up inclines and improve their fitness and mobility. Jo has seen a big improvement in his physical health, as he explains,
‘It has made a lot of difference to me. There are things, tasks that before I would have felt cumbersome, but because I do this, you know, I’m able to do things easily without thinking. Go up a flight of stairs without an elevator, things like that because I do this.’
Joe has been applying for jobs, but he says that when he has interviews or phone calls about Universal Credit, he tries to keep this part of Tuesday afternoon free so that he can attend the walking group. ‘Because once I miss it, I miss it for the whole week.’
We have a range of support groups and activity sessions which patients can access, such as walking groups, growing activities and communal eating. To find out more about our Social Prescribing offer, visit https://theaws.co.uk/social-prescribing/ or contact the Primary Care Network to identify your Social Prescribing Link Worker.