On 18th March 2021 The Social Prescribing Network are celebrating #SocialPrescribingDay. The event aims to foster a change and demonstrate the shift in power to people and local communities. It promotes co-design and co-creation, and ensures social prescribing continues to grow as a movement.
The Active Wellbeing Society provides a bespoke Social Prescribing service that starts with personalised care in around health centres. Below is one of many stories of patients who have benefited from this service.
Alyssa is a single woman who lives alone. As a result of Covid-19, she became cut off from forms of social contact and started to feel vulnerable and isolated.
‘I found myself feeling depressed and feeling like I didn’t have anything to look forward to. I just stayed in my room; I couldn’t make myself even get up to open the curtains. I was just in a dark place.’
Alyssa went to the GP surgery for help because she was suffering with depression. The Doctor referred her to Grace, a Social Prescribing Link Worker.
Initially, Alyssa was nervous about visiting the GP and felt afraid of receiving support from a Social Prescriber. But after a few weeks of speaking to Grace on the phone, this changed. Alyssa said she just realised, ‘this woman is going to help me.’
Because they couldn’t meet in person due to Covid-19 restrictions, Alyssa and Grace spoke on the phone each week. Grace helped organise food parcel deliveries while Alyssa was waiting for her benefits claim to be processed, provided advice and a listening ear, and connected Alyssa with My Time, a counseling organisation. Alyssa reflected, ‘I really found a lifeline, it pulled me out of my darkness in such a friendly way’.
After speaking to Grace regularly and starting to feel a bit healthier, Grace organised for Alyssa to join one of our walking groups in a local park. For Alyssa, being part of a social group has made the biggest difference to her wellbeing overall. She explained ‘it was nice to hear and to feel that it’s normal and to listen to other women’s stories. It gives you the opportunity to see that you could come out of this situation.’
The walking group gives Alyssa a sense of safety and belonging. She explained ‘I very much look forward to being part of the community, it’s like being part of a friendship group.’
Grace also organised for Alyssa to volunteer at one of our community cafés on Christmas Day, where she helped prepare freshly cooked hot meals for people in need. Alyssa helped cook the brussels sprouts, working alongside the chef. She said that she loved being part of volunteering. ‘It just made my day. I would have been at home and instead being part of the community again was great.’
For some health-related problems, a social response can be more beneficial than a medical prescription. Alyssa explained that she sees Social Prescribing as a ‘middle ground’.
‘You want help, but you don’t want to feel like you should be on antidepressants. So, what’s in between? And that’s where having a Social Prescriber helps because it calms your fears and it’s a solution-based service. I think that’s better than sort of patching it up with a plaster.’
With the help of Social Prescribing, Alyssa has found friendship, a sense of community and coping strategies. She said, ‘I’ve felt empowered, I’ve felt listened to and accepted.’
Social Prescribing is a referral programme that provides people with alternative ways of addressing their own emotional and mental health with personalised care that starts in and around health centres. Click here to read more about Social Prescribing.