The Ubele Initiative in collaboration with London Plus and Thriving Communities have been running a series of three roundtables to explore what Social Prescribing looks like in Black and Minoritised communities. The aim of these discussions was to discover how Social Prescribing can be effective for Black and Minoritised communities, to inform, connect and find ways to better support the sector.
One of the Mayor of London's key ambitions is to help more Londoners in vulnerable or deprived communities to improve their health and wellbeing through social prescribing. In 2020, the Mayor of London commissioned an independent report to explore the social prescribing activity taking place in four boroughs linked in with London Borough of Culture. This report can be found here
“It was identified that there is a need for greater connectivity and coordination between the culture, health and care sectors so that link workers and health professionals know what cultural activity is available.”
London Plus is supported by the Mayor of London reflecting the crucial role that the voluntary, community and social enterprise (VCSE) sector plays in improving health and wellbeing.
The roundtables were attended by: Social Prescribers, Public Health professionals and Health and Wellbeing/Social Prescribing activity providers. From Art Therapists, Food growers, Singing teachers, Arts organisations, Women’s Health services, Mobility and Access services, Parenting support and Women empowerment services.
This is the first out of three blogs, sharing insights from our discussions.
Sometimes called community referral, social prescribing enables GPs, nurses and other primary care professionals to refer people to a range of local, non-clinical services to support their health and wellbeing.
'Health problems do not always need medical interventions, and ill-health can be caused by external factors such as stress, poverty and inactivity. Social prescribing allows GPs and other frontline health professionals to refer patients to local support services provided by voluntary and community sector organisations. This is done through social prescribing link workers who advise on suitable community services focused on the individual.’ -londonplus.org
This roundtable took place November 23rd 2021 virtually. The aim of this table was to understand what language we use when talking about social prescribing. This includes establishing what terminologies are being used, as well as how we describe the process (from identifying a need for prescribing a Social Prescribing activity through to its delivery.)
Our first question was to find out what we understood as a group about the definition of Social Prescribing.
Generally, it was understood that Social Prescribing is a non-medical intervention, however there was some confusion as to if a service could be considered Social Prescribing if the service wasn’t referred by a NHS service.
Some felt their work in Social Prescribing included advocating, consulting and hand holding for the patient. Whilst other attendees were clear that this was not typically a part of Social Prescribing.
There was some understanding that the Social Prescriber could bridge the gap between VCF organisations and the people in need of the services.
The roundtable highlighted the need for the voluntary sector to access more resources, primarily a more direct way of getting paid when residents/patients were referred to their services.
As the conversation progressed, it was clear that the way we currently describe Social Prescribing is not clear enough and causes confusion which doesn’t help people access the services or deliver activities that could help the community.
London Plus suggested that a visual resource defining the difference between a Social Prescriber, Social Prescribing conversation and a Social prescribing activity could be beneficial. This can be found here
It was felt that the Voluntary sector has and is being relied upon by the Local Authority, NHS and government to provide Health and Wellbeing services but there is reluctance to financially support care givers and voluntary sector service providers.
We discussed the many different words used for Link Workers including ‘Community Connectors, Navigators, Prescribers, Community Development Workers’ and discussed the benefits and disadvantages of sticking to the terminology currently being used by the NHS.
There was some division in what terms are beneficial. Some felt the current words get in the way and prevent those who provide the services from getting the recognition for doing the work purely, because their services are not accessed via the recognised NHS pathways.
Everyone agreed that the current Social Prescribing journey doesn’t support Social Prescribing activity providers in being acknowledged or directly paid for the services they provide. It was acknowledged that the sector has a long way to go and it is essential for the money to follow the Social Prescribing activity provider.
Some attendees felt that GP’s generally are either unaware of when they can refer a resident to a Social Prescriber for help, opting to prescribe tablets when there could be a non-medical approach.
There was a desire for GP’s to consider a more holistic approach that could support the communities needs.
It was suggested that those who are providing Social Prescribing activities, who want to build connections with their local GP’s, so they can be considered for referrals, could try to approach GP’s directly - however getting in contact with their local CVS or local Social Prescriber could be a more efficient way to start building a relationship.
For more information and support, please see links below;
London Plus - To join the London Plus Social Prescribing network, to access case studies and resources please go to https://londonplus.org
BAYO - A space to find collectives, organisations and services from across the UK – run by and for the Black community – to support mental health and wellbeing. - https://bayo.ubele.org
Written by Tracy Durrant - Project Manager