How the University of Salford is starting conversations about Social Prescribing

Categories: School of Health and Society

Today is Social Prescribing Day, an annual celebration dedicated to highlighting the benefits of non-medical support for health and well-being.

In 2018, the University of Salford launched a social prescribing hub; designed to educate people on the benefits and theory of social prescribing.

Cormac Lawler, Research Fellow at the hub, said: “We’re very proud of what we have done, we’re now part of the national conversation about social prescribing and plugged in with all the top people, including the NHS.

“We are very much focused around researching social prescribing link workers and creating practical resources, which we then use in training. We developed a tool using occupational therapy theory, to help social prescribing work better.”

Social prescribing is based around combatting health issues through social activities; this kind of treatment can be prescribed for people who are struggling with mental health issues or injury. Sally Tavner, Occupational Therapy student at The University of Salford, said: “Social prescribing can have a positive impact on people’s health and well-being. It’s all about getting people out and giving them a sense of community and hope. That one little bit of social interaction a week can really help people who are struggling.”

Activities are usually run by voluntary sector organisations. “The process is heavily dependent on the voluntary sector, they are the people who organise the activities and support those struggling,” said Cormac.

The Incredible Education scheme is a Salford organization which focuses on improving health and well-being, through horticulture and nature-based activities. ‘WE DIG SALFORD’ is a campaign they run to encourage members of the community to join in with ‘green and growing’ activities, their other activities focus on horticulture and forest survival.  The organization works with people of all ages, as well as University of Salford students who specialise in geographical or nature studies.

Ian Bocock, Director of Incredible Education, said: “We run a range of activities with a variety of people around Salford, we hope to expand further in the future and run different classes so that there is something for everyone. It is amazing to see people benefit from our programmes and give back to their local environment.

“One of our participants recently came to us after he was involved in a motorcycle accident, he said he felt so proud of what he was doing, and although it was tiring he found the work extremely rewarding.”

Organizations like the Incredible Education Scheme are heavily reliant on funding, Cormac Lawler said: “There are all these amazing people out there doing this work, but obviously it is complicated and challenging. They need funding to be able to run sufficiently.”

To help gain exposure about social prescribing, several students from the University of Salford are hosting a seminar dedicated to explaining the benefits, using their own experiences and knowledge. The seminar will take place at 6pm, Monday 11th April via Teams; and is available to anyone wishing to attend.

The students hosting the seminar are both Occupational Therapy students and Diagnostic Radiography students. They aim to explain the benefits of social prescribing for both mental and physical illnesses.

Julie Penterbery, an Occupational Therapy student, said: “During placement, I have seen people re-engage with their communities, build new relationships, and thrive, all on the strength of being connected with doing things that meet their preferences”.

Sally Tavner

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