Empowering health and wellbeing: celebrating Social Prescribing Day

This year on 14 March, many people and organisations including the NHS, voluntary sector, local government and social prescribing link workers (SPLWs) come together to celebrate Social Prescribing Day. This day is a chance to promote the transformative power of social prescribing in enhancing individuals’ health and wellbeing and fostering stronger communities.

Giving people the time to express ‘what matters to them’ is at the heart of social prescribing. Unlike traditional healthcare models, SPLWs prioritise meaningful conversations, allowing individuals to openly identify and express their wishes. This unique approach empowers individuals to co-produce personalised care support plans, tailored to their specific needs and priorities.

SPLWs work in close collaboration with general practitioners (GPs), other healthcare professionals and wider services to provide holistic care and support. This partnership allows for practical solutions to be developed to target the wider problems that negatively impact an individual’s health and wellbeing. By offering the time to listen and understand, SPLWs equip individuals with the tools and resources to make informed choices and decisions about their lives.

Social prescribing extends beyond recognising personal strengths; it involves leveraging SPLWs’ knowledge, networks, and professional relationships to help individuals identify community assets that can support them. Collaborative working with community, voluntary, faith and social enterprise groups (CVFS) is essential for this work. It is important to value and recognise the key contribution of these organisations to the social prescribing model. This holistic approach encourages individuals to tap into local resources, fostering a sense of community and interconnectedness.

Accessing social prescribing services can be challenging for many individuals facing barriers such as language, low income, disability, or limited transportation. SPLWs actively work to break down these barriers by adopting flexible approaches, including meeting in familiar and accessible locations, utilising translation services, meeting in person, or offering support over the telephone or in the individual’s home.

Reflecting on the impact of social prescribing, our colleague GP and Health Inequality Lead at Burnley East Primary Care Network (PCN) noted, “People are sometimes ‘stuck’ with their lives, and SPLWs help them to become ‘unstuck’.” This sentiment is echoed by an individual receiving support from Burnley East PCN, who expressed gratitude, saying, “Thank you, this is the first time I have felt properly listened to.”

Social Prescribing Day is another great opportunity to promote the service we provide. We will be holding a pop-up event at a Community Hub in Burnley Town Centre offering support and information about the service. Following on from this, we will be taking part in a local initiative alongside staff from GP surgeries to plant trees within the local community in Burnley. On our social channels, we will be posting a short video to give an insight into our local outreach drop-in sessions.

Today serves as a poignant reminder of the invaluable role played by SPLWs in transforming lives and communities. Through genuine conversations, collaborative healthcare efforts, and a commitment to overcoming barriers. Social prescribing continues to make a significant impact on individuals’ health and wellbeing, promoting a more inclusive and empowered society.

Headshot shot of Louise Howorth

Social Prescribing Link Worker. Burnley, Pendle and Rossendale Council for Voluntary Service on behalf of Burnley East Primary Care Network.

Headshot shot of Vicky Ogretmen

Social Prescribing Link Worker. Burnley, Pendle and Rossendale Council for Voluntary Service on behalf of Burnley East Primary Care Network.