Today marks the first ever National Social Prescribing Link Worker Day! We wanted to take the opportunity to celebrate the amazing work that our own link workers do. We have a number of projects that use social prescribing:
- Moving Forward
- Chain Reaction
- Ways to Wellness
- Your Call
- Together in a Crisis
- Moving On Tyne & Wear
- Step Forward Tees Valley
Who better to explain the benefits of social prescribing than one of our very own link workers! We spoke to Gill, who gave us an insight into the profound impact that social prescribing can have.
Gill, Link Worker for Chain Reaction
Tell us about social prescribing link work and what it involves
I support people experiencing social isolation to engage in their community, by helping them gain confidence to attend regular exercise activities or clubs.
For those unable to do these activities when they first engage with the service, I offer 1:1 support packages in their homes. This might include helping them to prepare a meal, creating a budget plan for personal finances, checking benefits and correspondence, or making referrals to other organisations.
What impact does social prescribing have on the people you work with?
Social prescribing has an enormous impact on my clients: they have literally ‘got their lives back’. They feel valued and respected in society and able to make a worthwhile contribution. It’s wonderful to watch someone gain confidence, become independent, make new friends once again, and join in an activity they really like doing. They just needed a little encouragement and support to make that first step!
Tell us about one of your favourite moments as a link worker
One of my favourite moments was helping a lady who used to sit at home and feel very lonely, as she had lost her husband and was without any family nearby. I invited her to join a creative writing group I had developed, which focused on the theme of memory. After initial reluctance, this lady blossomed! She told us such interesting stories of her past life and ended up having her anecdotes recorded and used in a theatre production!
The lady continued with our reading group and made even more friends locally. She said she had no idea she had anything to say that would interest others!
In January this year, I started working on the Newcastle/Gateshead Social Prescribing Link Work Collaborative. In phase one of the project, we are looking at social prescribing across the two cities, in order to gather information, map the existing services, identify the gaps in provision, and find a common language for social prescribing in our area.