Social Prescribing FAQs


What is Social Prescribing?

We describe social prescribing as an approach, but it is used interchangeably by many organisations to describe a service, an activity or a whole process itself.

Generally, it involves three elements:

  1. The social prescriber (sometimes known as a link worker, or community connector);
  2. Social prescribing (the conversation that the link worker has with someone about what matters to them outside of health e.g. housing, education, financial concerns etc. that affect their health and wellbeing);
  3. A social prescription (the activity/service that may be recommended to support the health and wellbeing of someone).

You can see what this looks like in practice here. Additionally, the National Academy for Social Prescribing (NASP) has released a useful spoken word film that explains what social prescribing is.

What is a social prescribing service?

A social prescribing service aims to address the social factors affecting health & wellbeing. This is by connecting local residents to non-medical support within a borough, usually through a local GP surgery. There is at least one social prescribing service in every borough in London.  For services across London see Transformation Partners in Health and Care’s social prescribing map displaying services across London.

I deliver a social prescribing activity, how do I let people know about it?

Contact your local social prescribing service to let them know you are looking for referrals. There is one in every borough. They may require evidence of how effective it is and how useful people have found it, so make sure you have this information to hand when you talk about your work.

What is a link worker?

Link workers (sometimes called community connectors or social prescribers) are based in a social prescribing service and give people time; focusing on ‘what matters to me’. They take a holistic approach to people’s health & wellbeing. They connect people to community groups and statutory services for practical and emotional support. Link workers can be accessed via a GP recommendation or other health care professional.


What do commissioners require if I want them to fund me?

Commissioners differ from each other in what they are looking for, but some of the common things they require are:

  • A track record of already delivering the activity,
  • The impact of how you’ve made a difference e.g. case studies are always very powerful ways to demonstrate this,
  • The cost of your activity.
What funding can I access to help deliver social prescribing activities?

Currently, there is no funding specifically earmarked for social prescribing activities. However, many organisations find funding through their local authority and other funding organisations, e.g. London Funders or you could try your local integrated care partnership board (ICP) or find out what their Joint Forward Plan (JFP) priorities are. To start, we suggest that you search for funding related to tackling health inequalities, Core 20+5, or anything earmarked for improving health and wellbeing, or population health outcomes.

What things need to be in place to set up an organisation that delivers social prescribing activities?

Some social prescribing services may ask for different things, but the below list will normally be what they would be expecting to see if you are a constituted organisation.

  • Governing Document, sometimes known as your constitution or Memorandum & Articles
  • Annual Accounts
  • Your certificate of Public Liability Insurance
  • Safeguarding training records or DBS check invoices
  • A Health & Safety Risk Assessment for your activity
  • Equality & Diversity commitment– acceptable evidence might be one of the following:
    •  A story about how you have made sure your services and activities are fair and welcoming
    •  Marketing materials recognising diversity
    •   Translation services offered  
  • Data Protection – your Privacy Statement

If you aren’t a constituted organisation, link workers may still refer to you if they know about you e.g. a knit and natter group. But they will talk to you about they would need to see to enable those referrals to happen.  

How do I find where my local social prescribing service is?

In general, there is usually at least one social prescribing service operating in every London borough. Sometimes they are run by a voluntary sector organisation, council, or a group of surgeries as part of a primary care network (PCN). Learn more about what a PCN is here.

You can find out who is running your particular one in your borough by accessing the Transformation Partners in Health and Care map.


How do I access a social prescription?

There are different ways to access social prescribing. Normally access starts with a GP who may feel that you might benefit from this approach to support your health and wellbeing.

They will then refer you to someone called a link worker or community connector who will have a chat with you about other things as well as your health which might be concerning you. They will use this knowledge to help you to access things in the community that you might find of benefit and tailored to your needs, i.e. a social prescription.

Can I self refer for a social prescription?

Sometimes, but it depends on the type of support you think you might need or has been identified for you. Some organisations do not need a community connector/health professional referral, but others require it for funding or monitoring purposes. 

How do I find out what social prescribing activities might be near me?

Most boroughs in London have a directory of services usually run by the local council of voluntary services (CVS). If you visit their website you can find out about local activities which may have the social prescribing element attached to them.

Each borough also has a social prescribing service in it that you can contact. They should be able to point you in the right direction of what social prescribing activities might be near you. The website also has a list of activities in your area.

Is social prescribing the same as signposting?

Although social prescribing can involve signposting people to services in the community, it is more than that.

It involves an individual talking to a community or health care professional or someone tasked with looking at the whole person as an individual. This person helps them to access ‘what matters to them’ to support their health & wellbeing.

Is Social Prescribing only available for adults?

Some services being developed are aimed at Children and Young People in London. You can find out more about what is happening currently by viewing the attached presentation from Transformation Partners in Health and Care [PDF]. If you are interested in getting involved in this agenda, you can join StreetGames.

This is your network

Are there any questions missing from the above that you would like answers to? Do you have any social prescribing resources or case studies that you would like to share? Please email with your suggestions. 

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