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Today is Social Prescribing Day, and we thought it was a good opportunity to reflect on our work in this area over the past year as well as our plans going forward.
Social prescribing connects people to local services – such as sports, activity classes and volunteering opportunities. We support the local social prescribing network and Link Workers to connect participants to relevant physical activity opportunities, as well as provide advice to local sport and activity organisations about the services they can offer referrals. Taking part in physical activity can have many benefits, providing positive impacts on people's physical and mental health by being active, but also offering social opportunities and allowing people to connect with others.
Over the past 8 months, we have been working with colleagues across Lincolnshire to embed physical activity within the health sector and recently this mission has brought us closer to the social prescribing world. On the ground, there are multiple opportunities to get service users more active but occasionally there are gaps in provision and we are working with partners to try to fill these. One example of this is through the Tackling Inequalities fund from Sport England which we used in partnership with a Social Prescribing Link Worker to develop a physical activity for people living with COPD.
Our role has been to join the system in the leisure sector and ensure the funding gets down to the communities that can make the best use of it. You can find out more about this funding on our website - we will be announcing new Together funding (the new name for Tackling Inequalities Fund) very soon.
Over the next 12 months, we will be doing much more to connect the leisure sector to health priorities including delivering more training to staff across both sectors. One example of this is the Physical Activity Clinical Champions Training which is scheduled for April. This training up-skills Health Care Professionals so that they can feel more confident in discussing physical activity with their patients. Did you know that evidence suggests 1 in 4 people would be more active if advised by a GP or nurse? Unfortunately, only 20-30% of GPs currently talk about the benefits of physical activity so we have some work to do here!
You can find out much more here: Moving Healthcare Professionals | Sport England
At a strategic level, we sit on the county steering group for social prescribing. Through this, we have met with many colleagues in the NHS and also third sector organisations. Recently, we shared some resources such as the Royal College of GP's “Active Practice Charter” and a fantastic website Moving Medicine.
Our vision is that all GP surgeries will become Active Practices and in so doing will advocate the benefits of physical activity for their staff and patients alike. Social Prescribing Link Workers are key to this as they are able to have those conversations and join local, relevant opportunities for those that need them most.
The Moving Medicine site helps to show Healthcare workers how to engage in physical activity conversations based on different types of health conditions. No matter if you are working with, or supporting people with, cancer or Parkinson’s, pregnancy or depression, there is a movement conversation for you to have and we are supporting the workforce to be ready to have those conversations. In December, we delivered an online workshop to Link Workers about the benefits of physical activity and how daily movement can support our health.
The Let's Move Lincolnshire platform is an online resource that provides some case studies and inspiration for ways to be more active. There is also an activity finder so you can see what is available within your local area. We will be developing this resource over the next few months, to grow a range of opportunities suitable for people with health conditions or new to exercise, and enable it to be used as a tool for Link Workers to use to signpost people to appropriate activity sessions.
There are some excellent examples of Physical Activity and Social Prescribing fitting together across Lincolnshire. We are keen to do more in this space so to hear about it or to get involved, please contact Matthew.Evans@activelincolnshire.com