Supporting the growth of social prescribing in London

The voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise Sector are at the heart of social prescribing in London.

We know at least 20% of people attend their local GP or Accident and Emergency Unit for non-medical reasons.  Social prescribing is a way of enabling people to be referred to a wide range of local services more appropriate to their needs. These are usually provided by the Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise Sector (VCSE) as a holistic way of improving people’s health and well-being.

The NHS Long Term Plan (January 2019) has a commitment to increasing access to social prescribing for the whole population. The VCSE are at the very heart of social prescribing. Certainly, the concept is not new with many of you developing and running social prescribing activities for many years. However, what is new is the acknowledgment of the benefits of social prescribing within the NHS Long Term Plan. As well as funding provision to help deliver and grow social prescribing and establish new link-worker posts.

The Mayor of London and Social Prescribing

The London Health Inequalities Strategy contains a key ambition from the Mayor of London to grow social prescribing in the capital. Key to this ambition was to develop a joint vision with NHS, Statutory and the VCSE. This vision sets out what the partnership will do that over the next few years. Many of you helped us to shape this during the engagement period.

Next Steps for Social Prescribing

Next Steps for Social Prescribing, published on the 2 October 2019, sets out the Mayor’s approach for developing social prescribing across the capital over the next ten years. Working with key partners across the NHS, VCSE sectors Next Steps focuses on five key principles we believe will ensure growth:

  • Ensuring localised provision is key;
  • Easy access;
  • Ensuring availability for all;
  • Supporting the social prescribing workforce;
  • Supporting the VCSE sector to engage with social prescribing as an equal partner to commissioners and other key players in developing provision.

As part of developing Next Steps we spoke to over 300 voluntary sector stakeholders about how they engage with commissioners and to ensure that they are ready for referrals. Additionally, we have been working with London Plus members to look at what kinds of support would be useful for the sector. As well as how to develop a collective voice across London to make sure that the VCSE is at the heart of developing and delivering social prescribing.

The Greater London Authority (GLA) and NHS are now moving forward in developing the four specific workstreams in Next Steps;

  • Advocating and championing social prescribing.
  • Developing the workforce (including volunteering).
  • Supporting the VCSE sector to provide referral activities.
  • Using digital technology.

You can find out more about this work by viewing the GLA’s social prescribing webpages as well as view some of the resources we have commissioned. There will also be further updates in the GLA’s health inequalities newsletter.

Other London Plus Resources

Here at London Plus we have collected case studies highlighting some of the brilliant social prescribing projects happening across London. You can take a read of them by clicking the links below:

Community links social prescribing project 

Redbridge CVS: Health and wellbeing buddies

Kingston Voluntary Action: Connected Kingston