Social prescribing will see medical services linked to support groups to help patients who are suffering from social isolation.

A project that could help change the face of medical care has been given a funding boost.

The Social Prescribing Project will bring together partners from across Scotland and Northern Ireland, having received £3 million in funding from the Big Lottery Fund.

Scottish Communities for Health and Wellbeing (SCHW) and the Northern Ireland Healthy Living Centre Alliance (HLCA) will deliver the partnership in project, with support from a range of other groups.

Social prescribing links primary medical care to community based resources and local support services and is backed by a social model for health. This recognises that good health and wellbeing are influenced by a wide range of individual, interpersonal, organisational, social, environmental, political and economic factors.

Local medical and social work professionals, including GPs and practice nurses, will be able to use social prescribing to refer patients who are isolated or experiencing loneliness or presenting with social psychological and anxiety symptoms to a link person – the social prescriber.

This person will work with an individual to develop a health pathway, which includes access to a range of local resources, activities and services, including stress management, volunteering opportunities, formal and informal learning, parent support activities and healthy lifestyle/active travel activities such as walking, football and cycling. Most importantly each participant receives one to one support at all stages from the social prescriber, including introductions to formal and informal community groups and community assets to assist in reconnecting and reducing loneliness and isolation.

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