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17.08.20

Social prescribing awarded £5m funding boost

The National Academy for Social Prescribing (NASP) has been awarded a £5m funding boost to support people to stay connected and maintain their health and wellbeing following the coronavirus pandemic.

Social prescribing is aimed at helping tackle loneliness, improve wellbeing and recovery from Covid-19 through practical, local activities and programmes. The £5m funding boost will support local community partnerships, encourage innovation and improve the evidence base for social prescribing.

Projects include football to support mental health, art for dementia and improving green spaces, as just some examples.

Working with partners, including the Arts Council England, Natural England, Money and Pensions Service, NHS Charities Together, Sport England and NHS England, NASP will support a range of local community activities.

The funding will connect people to initiatives in their local communities to improve their mental health and wellbeing in response to the impact of Covid-19, including improved green spaces, singing and physical activities as well as access to tailored debt advice.

The academy is working with organisations to develop projects including:

  • football: Newcastle United Foundation ‘Be a Game Changer’ programme and ‘12th Man’ programme which work to support men with mental health issues
  • Art by Post: created under lockdown, the Southbank Centre sends free creative activity booklets to people across the UK who are living with dementia and other chronic health conditions
  • improved green spaces: link workers refer and connect people to their local wildlife and wider activities including food growing, healthy cooking, wildlife gardening, environmental art and crafts, music workshops, and beekeeping
  • singing: English National Opera (ENO) have partnered with Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust to devise an integrated 6-week pilot programme of singing, breathing and wellbeing aimed at supporting and enhancing the recovery of Covid-19 survivors
  • money advice – the Money and Pensions Service and Mental Health UK have created a Money Support Pack for people who need support with their mental health as a result of Covid-19

Minister for Health Jo Churchill said: “This new funding is hugely important, as it will allow us to build on the merits of social prescribing and encourage innovation in local projects, as well as supporting people to remain connected with their local community, reduce loneliness and improve their wellbeing.

“GPs and social prescribing link workers have been working incredibly hard to support their patients through this challenging time. As we begin to support the move out of lockdown, social prescribing will be key to tackling health inequalities and helping people recover and rebuild their lives.

Chief Executive Officer of the National Academy for Social Prescribing, James Sanderson, added: “Now more than ever, the pandemic has shown the value of social prescribing in helping people to stay connected, feel supported and to maintain their wellbeing.

“The National Academy for Social Prescribing has an ambitious agenda to support people to live the best life they can by accessing support in their local communities based on what matters to them. We will be working with key partners across national and local government, the NHS, and the voluntary and community sector to build the support structures necessary to enable social prescribing to thrive.”

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