Tailored support to reduce social isolation of local people

People in North East Hampshire and Farnham whose health may be suffering as a result of becoming socially isolated will have free, direct support from an expert charity from July 1.

Family Action will be the new providers of the area’s social prescribing service, helping local residents who would benefit from support with their wellbeing.

A person’s health is determined by a wide range of factors, including their social, economic and environmental circumstances. Social prescribing is about taking an all-round approach to address some of these factors and supporting individuals to take greater control of their own health.

People can become isolated or withdrawn for many reasons and if unsupported can develop depression or other problems. A social prescribing service can help to connect them to other individuals or groups who share similar interests, to enable them to make friends and find enjoyment in their daily lives.

Social prescribing works with existing medical services, such as GP practices. GPs and other health professionals can refer people to Family Action.

David Holmes CBE, CEO of Family Action said: “Family Action are delighted to be able to offer social prescribing to the residents of North East Hampshire and Farnham. We know from our years of experience of delivering social prescribing services that it offers real benefits to people’s health and wellbeing and we look forward to working with GPs and health centres to help improve the lives of their local community.”

The service is commissioned by NHS North East Hampshire and Farnham Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), so is free to service users. It offers access to activities, social groups, services and advice based on the individual’s needs and interests. It aims to improve people’s wellbeing, which in turn can often have a positive impact on their health; can enable residents to be proactive in managing their own health and wellbeing and help them get the right support.

Local people worked with the CCG to develop the original social prescribing service and the CCG will continue to work with them to continually improve.

The service aims to be accessible to as many people as possible within the community.  GPs will refer people who they think will benefit from social prescribing to a Wellbeing Coordinator based at locations convenient for the local community. The Coordinator will talk through the options available during the first appointment and will then work with an individual to find activities, services or advice locally that suit their needs and interests.

Dr Steven Clarke, a GP in Fleet and a Clinical Director at NHS North East Hampshire and Farnham CCG, said: “We are delighted to be able to bring the national expertise of Family Action to our local residents.

“We believe that Family Action offers a great package of support, building on over 150 years of experience of working with vulnerable people in society. Across North East Hampshire and Farnham we have very different communities, whose residents face wide-ranging issues, and Family Action’s history of working across very varied areas of the country means they are able to tailor services to people in all circumstances.”

Dr Clarke added: “On behalf of the CCG I would like to thank Hart Voluntary Action, who launched our local social-prescribing service – Making Connections – more than four years ago and have been supporting local people ever since, making real differences to the lives of some of our most vulnerable residents.”

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