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Social Prescribing in Black and Racially Minoritised Communities

People outside a black-owned business.

The Ubele Initiative (Ubele), supported by London Plus and funded by The National Academy of Social Prescribing (NASP), undertook a series of roundtable discussions to explore social prescribing in Black and Racially Minoritised (BRM) communities. These discussions took place with participants who are involved in the delivery of social prescribing activities.

From the discussions, Ubele has written a report about Social Prescribing in London’s BRM communities. This blog will outline the recommendations of the Reimagining Social Prescribing report. Please scroll to the bottom to download the full PDF version.

What is Social Prescribing?

Social Prescribing is a holistic practice that links medical patients to a range of non-clinical community-based activities to improve their health and well-being through practical and emotional support. Such activities range widely from skills development to sports and arts. Head to our social prescribing resources page for case studies, blogs and reports.

Also, here is a breakdown of the social prescribing approach for the voluntary sector.

Social Prescribing and BRM Communities

59% of GPs┬áthink social prescribing can help reduce their workload. It also creates community cohesion and leads to greater economic productivity. However, Ubele has found that social prescribing services still don’t adequately serve BRM communities. While this is still the case, social prescribing services cannot reach their full potential.

Meanwhile, discrimination, racism, and micro-aggressions negatively affect the mental and physical health of BRM people. On top of this, the Covid19 pandemic has exacerbated inequalities and impacted the health-seeking behaviour of BRM communities. These factors have resulted in BRM people requiring social prescribing services, but also being reluctant to seek them out.

The Roundtable Discussions

The main objective of the roundtables was to identify and understand some of the gaps and barriers preventing access and take-up of social prescribing within BRM Communities in London. Ubele have identified four points to focus on going forward. These are:

  • Tackling implicit bias, racial prejudice and social injustice.
  • Nurturing and empowering the community.
  • Supporting initiatives of these communities.
  • Engaging with the community in a meaningful and collaborative way.

With this in mind, how do we improve these things within social prescribing? Ubele outlined a range of recommendations for the future, categorised into three roundtable themes.

Please click on the headings below to find out about each roundtable discussion.

First Roundtable: The Language and Business of Social Prescribing

The first roundtable took place on the 23rd of November, 2021. The aim was to understand how BRM communities talk about social prescribing. It included establishing what terminologies social prescribers use and how the process is described (from identifying a need for social prescribing activities to its delivery).

From this, it has become clear that organisations should update their social prescribing resources to be more culturally inclusive. They should speak directly to the communities they are trying to target. Examples of how to do this include creating resources in multiple languages and using images that represent BRM Communities. The second recommendation was to identify existing social prescribing activity provider directories and ensure that they include BRM activity providers.

Second Roundtable: How are Social Prescribing Activities Funded?

This roundtable took place on December 9th, 2021. It aimed to understand the current resourcing of social prescribing activities, by discussing stereotyping misconceptions faced by Black-led organisations, financial support, capacity building and developing an infrastructure for growth.

Ubele recommends that organisations share funding opportunities specifically for BRM-led groups more widely. Funders should also offer sustainable funding for social prescribing activity providers from BRM communities. They note that capacity to apply for funding is an ongoing barrier for BRM communities, which often run micro-organisations.

Additionally, the current funding structure does not account for or adapt to micro-organisations. This creates unequal opportunities for BRM-led organisations to access money, making it difficult for them to grow and reach community members. Therefore, the final recommendation is that funders offer support, workshops and capacity building to help BRM organisations with funding applications.

Third Roundtable: Building Relationships and Networks

The final discussion took place on January 11th, 2022. The aim was to understand the requirements of building and developing strong relationships and networks to support accessible and practical social prescribing activity delivery in BRM communities.

Following the final roundtable, Ubele recommends that there should be more BRM peer-to-peer support, including monthly knowledge sharing. Peer-to-peer support would create a space for people to discuss new ideas and network effectively. Ubele also suggested that there should be culturally relevant guidance on how organisations can become social prescribing activity providers.

Furthermore, Ubele recommends that organisations develop a strategy to include BRM individuals as board members. Another suggestion is for BRM organisations to develop partnerships with national organisations such as Mind. The final recommendation is to create an annual recognition award or event to highlight, acknowledge and inspire the sector.

Conclusion

This report by the Ubele Initiative has highlighted some pressing issues with social prescribing services. Currently, social prescribing does not serve BRM Communities as well as it could. From this discovery, Ubele has outlined several suggested changes which aim to make social prescribing services more inclusive to all.

Download the full Reimagining Social Prescribing report [PDF]