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Waltham Forest Social Prescribing service

Social Prescribing has been set up in Waltham Forest to help our residents become healthier, happier and connected.

Last updated: 5 January 2022

What is Social Prescribing?

Social Prescribing (SP) involves supporting patients and residents to improve their health and social welfare by connecting them to non-clinical community services which are often run by the local council or voluntary and community organisations.

By having a guided conversation with a SP, people can focus on what really matters to them as an individual while also becoming connected with community groups that provide practical and emotional support. In particular, it helps those with long-term health conditions, who feel isolated or who need support with their mental health. People with some complex social needs can also benefit from social prescribing due to the positive effect it can have on their wellbeing.

SP can provide information or advice on community-based activities and support services to agencies, voluntary community sector enterprises (VCSE) and key workers at our regular Wellbeing Café and Networking events.

Who is SP for?

The service aims to support and connect local patients/residents who require non-medical support to improve their health and wellbeing; examples include:

  • Receiving welfare advice, regarding entitlements to benefits and how to manage debt
  • Increasing physical activity or healthy eating
  • Joining in with local activities such as art classes or gardening groups
  • Connecting to peer support for people experiencing bereavement or living with long term conditions
  • Connecting to local befriending or volunteering schemes
  • Training to help build confidence or getting back to work
  • Receiving assistance with a cold home or energy bills
  • Connecting patient/residents to access support for‘ long Coronavirus’ recovery

Referrals are made by health professionals (including GPs, community health services and social workers) for patients/ residents that are:

  • 18 years old and over.
  • Able to attend a local activity independently
  • Can participate in the activity without requiring a lot of support from the group facilitator

Who provides SP?

Waltham Forest's SP service was established in 2016 as a telephone only support service.

The core team, consisting of three team members: Sharon Hanooman, Barbora Ertlova and Shamal Waraich, based in Public Health team. They also work closely with three part time SP based in the voluntary community sector (Waltham Forest Age UK, OrganicLea and Citizens Advice Waltham Forest) and nine SP (link workers) based in GP Primary Care Networks (PCN’s) working as part of the wider service.

SP wellbeing cafés will provide face to face support and activities in three community premises in the borough.

In April 2020, nine SP were recruited based in seven WF PCNs offering support to patients within their own GP practices and surgeries.

The local authority and voluntary community sector SP support residents referred by Adult Social Care, Talking Therapies and other Community Health and Mental Health Services.

For further details, please contact: social.prescribing@walthamforest.gov.uk.