Sunderland Culture celebrates funding awarded to deliver social prescribing

A NEW Sunderland partnership will be delivering a project designed to help people recover from Covid through the power of social prescribing. 

A £50,000 grant from the Thriving Communities Fund will help establish the partnership to improve and increase the range and reach of social prescribing activities on Wearside.

Sunderland Culture, Sunderland Carers Centre, Groundwork North East & Cumbria, Equal Arts and Sunderland GP Alliance have come together to form the Sunderland Social Prescribing Partnership.

Rebecca Ball, Creative Director of Sunderland Culture, explained: “The project will increase social connectedness and help Sunderland communities cope with the impact of Covid as part of a national initiative to embed social prescribing in communities and healthcare.”

The partners will explore and test how people living in Sunderland can be helped to engage with a broader range of community activities to support their health and wellbeing. The project aligns with the ambition across Sunderland, through All Together Better, an alliance of health and social care providers, local commissioners and the voluntary sector, for a single, integrated social prescribing service for the city.

Over the next 12 months, the partnership will:

  • Create an inspiring range of high-quality creative social prescribing activities for carers and their families in Sunderland;
  • Use the Carers Referral Pathway to test the partnership approach to reach more people;
  • Engage 600 people from Sunderland with activities;
  • Create opportunities for collaborative working, information sharing and training.

The programme of social prescribing activities will include:

– Doorstep Delivery: offering creative activities for people to take part in on their doorstep;

– Parent Carer Offer: a targeted offer responding to consultation with carers and families;

– Men’s Shed: a six-month activity programme aimed at reducing social isolation and promoting men’s health and well-being;

– Young Carers Group: a ten-month programme to provide opportunities for young carers to take part in new activities;

– Creative Age: Artist-led sessions for people living with dementia and their carers, with new groups for pre-diagnosis and carers or former carers;

– Outdoor volunteering: taster sessions to take part in basic outdoor tasks at Elba Park;

– Singing for Lung Health: a singing programme for people with COPD and families.

Rebecca Ball added: “We’re delighted that The Thriving Communities Fund has recognised our work in this way. Our partnership will work to develop and deliver social prescribing activities for carers and their families, many of whom have been hit hard by impact of the pandemic.

“This critical support, at a crucial moment, will enable us to respond to the impact of Covid 19 pandemic on the lives of carers, support our city’s recovery and develop a partnership that can drive forward vital initiatives for the wellbeing of our communities in Sunderland.”

Douglas Hunter, Equal Arts’ Chief Executive, said: “This ambitious partnership will support carers and people living with dementia to access imaginative and meaningful socially-prescribed activities. We’re thrilled to be able to bring our artist-led workshops to those living in Sunderland, together helping improve wellbeing and health through creativity.”

Social prescribing enables health care professionals to refer people to a range of local, non-clinical services to support their physical and mental health and wellbeing. 

Jon Twelves, Chief Executive of Sunderland GP Alliance and a key partner of All Together Better Sunderland, said: “We are delighted to be involved in this fantastic initiative to support our most vulnerable residents.

“Sunderland is already leading the way in social prescribing and on behalf of our Primary Care Networks across the city we now employ 24 social prescribers who take referrals from GPs and work as part of multi-disciplinary teams to support people with their health and wellbeing.

“Our communities in Sunderland have been some of the hardest hit by Covid and this funding will allow us to widen the range of community support groups and services available to our social prescribers.”

Jane Hartley, Regional Lead for North East and Yorkshire, National Academy for Social Prescribing, said: “I am thrilled this positive collaboration between social prescribing leads and voluntary and community sector partners working to deliver a wide range of cultural, outdoor and group activities for unpaid carers and their families to support them in their recovery from the impact of the COVID19 pandemic, will be supported through the Thriving Communities Fund.”

The Thriving Communities Fund will support 37 projects across England and is being delivered in a unique partnership between National Academy for Social Prescribing, Arts Council England, Historic England and Natural England, NHS England and NHS Improvement, Sport England, the Money & Pensions Service and NHS Charities Together. It is part of the Thriving Community programme, which aims to strengthen the range of social prescribing activities offered locally, enhance collaboration and networking between local organisations and enable social prescribing link workers to connect people to more creative community activities and services. The programme is enabling providers working in arts, culture and heritage, nature, physical activity and offering life advice and support to develop initiatives, learn and network, and build the evidence base for social prescribing