Prevention programme - Focus on social prescribing at latest Together We’re Better health and care leaders’ forum

We were delighted that social prescribing was the focus of the latest Together We’re Better Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent leaders’ event.

The development of social prescribing locally is a major priority for both the Prevention programme and the wider partnership.

Social prescribing is a way in which people with care and support needs, perhaps due to long term health conditions or simply being older or less active, can gain access to a variety of support services, often those provided by the voluntary and community sector.

It is a holistic way of looking at the challenges an individual is facing that may present themselves as a medical or social care issue but could be about aspects of their life such as family relationships, employment or social isolation.

At the event, Paul Edmondson-Jones, Senior Responsible Officer for Prevention, gave an introduction about the work of the Social Prescribing Advisory Group within the programme.

The group is co-chaired by VAST and Support Staffordshire and includes Public Health colleagues in Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent, Clinical Commissioning Group colleagues, the Sports Across Staffordshire & Stoke-on-Trent network and a nominated voluntary sector provider representative.

Its role is to take an overview of the many existing or emerging social prescribing initiatives; to coordinate and share good practice locally, linking to national knowledge and experience; to reduce duplication or overlap, and where possible encourage and to support improved alignment, without stifling the work that is already happening.

In addition to its formal link to Prevention, the co-chairs and other members ensure links are made across other Together We’re Better programmes, especially Enhanced Primary and Community Care programme with its leadership role for Integrated Care Teams.

Paul then handed over to VAST Chief Executive Andrew Thompson and Garry Jones, Chief Executive for Support Staffordshire, who provided a fuller understanding of the work that is taking place in Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent, the gaps that exist and how we can work in a more joined up way.

One example of the work that is taking place is the Voluntary and Community Sector (VCS) Hub run by VAST, which is a free service that offers social prescribing support in North Staffordshire, covering areas such as befriending and social activities, coping with long term conditions and housing support.

We are eager to see how this work progresses and thank VAST and Support Staffordshire, along with the many other VCS organisations that are working in Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent for leading on this.

For more information about the programme, visit www.twbstaffsandstoke.org.uk/about-us/our-work/prevention.