With many articles in the local and national news recently, social prescribing is the hot topic. The BBC recently reported that social prescribing is set to play an important role in taking the pressure off GPs and providing the right support for people. NHS England plan to increase the number of trained ‘link workers’ that can support people to access social activities.
But what does social prescribing actually mean and who can do it? Social prescribing is about supporting someone to connect to their local community and to take part in an activity that makes them feel good about themselves and helps keep them well, with people often being able to manage long term conditions better and needing to go to the GP less often.
Bolton’s version of social prescribing is called The Community Asset Navigator programme or CANs for short. We can support individuals to connect with groups and activities, such as a walking group, craft group, social group, mentoring or befriending and to get involved in volunteering.
The CAN programme is delivered through a partnership of local organisations, Bolton CVS, Bolton Wanderers Community Trust, The Octagon, BAND, Age UK Bolton and Bolton Lads and Girls Club. All of these organisations have a belief in supporting people to build on their strengths and increase their health and well-being. They have strong connections within local communities and put people at the heart of everything that they do. This is the real strength of the community and voluntary sector.
The programme also funds local groups and organisations through small grants, ensuring there is a range of activities available to socially prescribe into.
GP Dr Helen Wall had this to say about the programme:
''As a GP it is so hard to keep up to date with the vast realms of information we get every single day and keeping up with evolving local services and support for patients is no exception. As our patient's advocates it is without doubt a gift to be given Community Asset Navigators who can help us and our patients see the wood for the trees. Each time I have used this service they have been responsive and engaging requiring little more than a call or email from myself to take responsibility for mobilising the patient through community and local services appropriate for them. I honestly think that before this service our patients had a much poorer offer as there are so many missed opportunities for us to seek help for patients and improve lives and wellbeing.''
Within the first year of the programme we received over 750 referrals. 57% of which came from the NHS and GPs. The asset navigators have supported people to access over 1,400 groups to improve their wellbeing. People who have participated in the programme had this to say:
‘thank you so much for building my confidence back it was amazing speaking to you because I thought I will never get back to normal but now I am having positive vibes thank you’ ;
‘things have gone in a great direction and I'm hopeful about the future for the first time in years’
Further positive feedback has been received from GP Dr George Ogden: ‘CANs are a great asset working with patients who have lost confidence or who have lost social contacts and are becoming isolated and sad’
If you would like to know more about the programme you can contact Bolton CVS on 01204 546010, you can access the programme by calling 01204 546048 or visiting https://www.boltoncvs.org.uk/can-referral.
It’s exciting that more people are starting to see how connecting to local groups and services can make such a big difference to how you feel. We look forward to building on the successes so far and continuing to support people to build on their strengths and improve their health and well-being, making Bolton a happier and healthier place to live.
End of Press Release
Notes to Editor:
Bolton Community and Voluntary Services (Bolton CVS) is a charity supporting Bolton’s thriving community and voluntary sector, through training and development, grants and partnership and networking opportunities. We lead on delivering The Community Asset Navigator Programme in Bolton, funded through The Greater Manchester Transformation Fund. All partners have a strong knowledge of many of the 1,500+ groups in Bolton and connect people to these groups to support them to feel happier and healthier. The partners all bring key expertise to the programme.
If you would like to know more about the programme you can contact Bolton CVS on 01204 546010, you can access the programme by calling 01204 546048. visiting https://www.boltoncvs.org.uk/can-referral.