The key messages coming from the launch of the Social Prescribing Network on Thursday 12 October in Belfast were loud and clear; social prescribing is happening at scale in communities across Ireland and by coming together we can connect more people, without constantly reinventing the wheel.
Tickets for this event had been snapped up 2 weeks prior to the event, proving that social prescribing was certainly here to stay. In fact, an additional 10 places were released due to popular demand from over 80 representatives in sectors including health and social care, voluntary, community and social entreprise, service users, housing, domiciliary care and the private sector.
The event which took place in the Maureen Sheehan Centre, was delivered in partnership by Elemental Software and the Healthy Living Centre Alliance. Event host, Tony Doherty (Regional Coordinator of the Healthy Living Centre Alliance) welcomed Chair of the Social Prescribing Network (England), Dr Marie Polley to Belfast to share the great work that Marie and her colleagues were conducting in building both the environment, and the case, for social prescribing within the health and social care system.
Two flagship social prescribing programmes were featured at the event as representatives from Bogside and Brandywell Health Forum and MEEAP shared stories about the difference that social prescribing was making to people’s lives.
The true impact of social prescribing was highlighted when service user representative, Debs Taylor spoke about how finding an art class transformed not only her life but that of her children. Debs is a champion of social prescribing in every sense of the word and credits non-clinical support as the driving force in treating her depression, which has saved the NHS at least £14,000.
Dr Sloan Harper, Director of Integrated Care at the Health and Social Care Board, closed the event summarising the feedback from the audience and key messages in building meaningful connections between people and their communities.
- The knowledge is likely to already exist and if it’s not, then we haven’t talked to enough people
- We need to ask ourselves what are the key questions required for meaningful measurement and standardisation
- We need to make it easier for GPs to make referrals
- We must continue to collaborate and share information
- Social prescribing is part of the agenda for ICPs in Northern Ireland and beyond
- We have been doing social prescribing for a long time but it must become everyday practice
To receive information and contribute to the wider Social Prescribing Network, email firstname.lastname@example.org
The next regional event for Ireland will take place 24th January. For more information on how you can be part of the event and the Social Prescribing Network Ireland, please contact Natasha Deeney on email@example.com or register here.