Our Healthwatch Southwark team have been talking to residents about their experiences with Social Prescribing.
Social Prescribing is when a link worker from a GP, pharmacy, hospital discharge team, job centre, voluntary sector organisation or other, connects a person to new activities, or support, such as social or interest groups, or practical support, such as advice services.
From talking with seven Southwark residents and running a survey, we have learnt that these types of connections and social relationships are an important part of overall wellbeing.
The interviewees explained how social prescribing had improved their mental wellbeing, feelings of connectedness with others and how it lessened feelings of loneliness. It removed a barrier of social anxiety for some and open up to others more freely.
It also gave these residents a sense of fulfilment, to be able to help others by engaging and volunteering their time.
One person described how belonging to a weekly social 'café meet up' had given her a new social network, helped her to get out of her home regularly and enabled her to be less isolated.
Another resident also touched on how the negative affect long term conditions can have on your confidence and self-image. Whilst she enjoyed the social benefits of social prescribing, she hopes to attend more groups which focussed on the awareness of our bodies and learning to love it as we should.
See how local residents have described the benefits of social prescribing, in their own words:
- "I don't get so depressed. I'm more outgoing. Yeah, it's good. Meeting people. I've made a new friend."
- "it would be a good idea...to have more health social groups [weight, breathing etc.], so you're more aware of what's going on in your body. 'you learn to love the way you are – so to like my legs."
- "Yes because I'm very isolated where I am now. When I moved I could walk with crutches but not now to be single living by yourself, not working and my support network and friends not living near-by, the wellbeing group was like wow. It's given me the confidence to leave my home every day"
- "Just mixing is nice, you can go [to the cafe meet up] on a good day or a bad day, I can help others - cheer people up."
- "[it improved my mental] health yes, my willingness and openess to talk to people."
Social Prescribing Survey
Our Healthwatch Southwark team want to hear from people who have been given advice by their GP, or another health or care worker, to join in community activities.
They'd also like to hear from people with health conditions/disabilities who have not received this kind of help.
They want to learn more about how this is going in Southwark and you can help us by completing the survey here.
This year's theme for Mental Health Awareness Week is 'Body Image', looking into how the way we feel and think about our bodies can affect our mental health throughout life.
Get involved in the week here! Use this week to #BeBodyKind!