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Social prescribing’s impact clearly demonstrated

NHS Property Services is celebrating the delivery of 25 new social prescribing sites to its partners across the country, achieving its goal of 100 sites being made available for patients.

One of the 25 new sites, delivered during the 2023/4 financial year, is a communal garden next to Haxby and Wigginton Health Centre in York. NHSPS funded the redevelopment of the green space, known as Whole Life Community Garden (pictured), and the revitalised plot is looked after by a local community group, and hosts horticultural activities and other social prescribing services. 

NHSPS explains that social prescribing ‘aims to provide non-clinical routes to treatment for people with a range of social or health issues, giving them more choice and freedom to receive the support they need’. By addressing the root causes of ill health and enhancing overall wellbeing, social prescribing has, the organisation says, emerged as a powerful tool in the healthcare landscape. NHSPS said: “Some of the many benefits include reducing social isolation, fostering skills development, boosting confidence, and improving physical fitness among participants, as well as alleviating pressure on primary care services by reducing the demand for GP appointments and prescriptions.

“Demand on the voluntary sector to deliver services that can help address specific social needs is increasing,” it continued. “Through strategic partnerships with Integrated Care Boards, Trusts, GPs, and the voluntary sector, NHSPS has been identifying and redeveloping vacant space in its portfolio to help support local communities this way.”

The sites serve as focal points for healthcare workers, and offer a wide range of services, including but not limited to counselling, therapy, and gardening. Many successful organisations have benefited from the programme, such as Combat2Coffee, Age UK, Men’s Shed, ‘and many more’.  

Between the programme’s inception in 2019 and 2023, NHSPS opened 75 social prescribing sites across England, with each playing a pivotal role in promoting health equity and improving patient outcomes. During the last financial year, 25 more were planned and delivered, including green spaces. 

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