SPRING Social Prescribing helps people address their health and wellbeing by connecting them to sources of support within their community and embark on a journey of learning to support their own mental and physical wellbeing through a greater understanding of support available and risk factors to prevent further ill health. The initiative is funded by the National Lottery Community Fund in collaboration with the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs.
A team of SPRING Social Prescribers deliver supports to socially deprived areas across Northern Ireland and Scotland. During Covid-19 SPRING has adapted to provide supports online and remotely, offering socially distanced visits and classes where appropriate.
2,960 people have been referred to SPRING Social prescribing from January 2019 to June 2020. 85% of those who completed the Warwick Edinburgh Mental Wellbeing Scale assessment reported an improvement in health and wellbeing.
“I’m going through a really bad patch with my depression so Aine’s meditation has made me feel peace” (participant)
In direct response to the mental and emotional strain of Covid-19 restrictions, the team at SPRING Social Prescribing provided “Connect Well” online workshops. It was a free weekly workshop available to anyone over 18 years and delivered via Zoom. The classes ran from May to September and a total of 668 people took part. Workshops were designed to allow people to learn new skills in health, relaxation, and coping mechanisms. Learning sessions on resilience, stress, anxiety, how to get a good night’s sleep, and arts therapy were well attended. The resilience workshop: “Todays emotions, tomorrow’s peace, moving beyond Covid” attracted a record number of participants.
Another appreciated the practical learning offered in the cookery classes:
“Three meals in 30 minutes, brilliant for families and people at work to prepare quick, lovely healthy dishes” (participant)
Digital disparity is an ongoing challenge to adult learning. Providing technology and digital training to people with none, is an important step to improving health and wellbeing and keeping people connected as restrictions continue.
A Social Prescriber carried out a socially distanced visit in the garden of a client who had been referred to her for chronic pain during lockdown. The lady, who was delighted to “put a face to the name” on the phone and was then able to learn how to access online supports on her iPhone, following advice provided by her social prescriber during the visit. This client has greatly benefitted from the online webinars and was particularly pleased with the online learning provided by the psychological therapist. The woman has now found the courage to walk the short distance to the shop which is a significant milestone.
Health Facilitator Karen availed of training and supports provided by Social Prescribing. A fibromyalgia sufferer, who had spent much time confined to home, Karen is now a fully qualified Chi-Me and yoga instructor. Karen says her journey through Social Prescribing and subsequent training taught her to accept her body and where she was at.