Guest column: Connecting with your community

Heather Arnatt, area co-ordinator for Voluntary Services Centre in West Lindsey
Heather Arnatt, area co-ordinator for Voluntary Services Centre in West Lindsey

Voluntary Centre Services (VCS) is working in partnership with both statutory and community organisations to deliver a social prescribing pilot project in the wider Gainsborough area.

Social prescribing allows primary care services to refer patients with social, emotional or practical needs to a range of local, non-clinical services, when a medical intervention or just treating clinical origins is not getting to the root of the individual’s problem.

It can also involve simply putting people in contact with services that can provide help and advice with issues such as debt, benefits and housing, or finding opportunities to reduce social isolation.

A social prescribing hub has been established within the existing volunteer centre at the Guildhall and Voluntary Centre Services is offering signposting and referral services for any individual who would like to connect with their community, or who would benefit from accessing local activities.

Referrals can include everything from arts groups and lunch clubs, to activities that involve physical exercise, such as gardening and dance.

GPs, nurses, housing providers, social care teams and even family members can refer people to the social prescribing hub, where we will work with the individual to identify non-medical interventions such as social activity, diet, relaxation and exercise that could improve both their health and wellbeing.

Some individuals may even wish to access volunteering advice, which remains available.

Individuals will also be able to drop in and ask for support and advice at regular community surgery sessions delivered at John Coupland Hospital.

Starting on September 12, advisors will be available for a drop-in session at Morton Suite between 10am and 12noon.

Community cafes will also be popping up in venues across the area.

VCS is also keen to connect with community groups and organisations that are looking for more participants for their activities, or need support to develop their projects.

The information will be added to an established database of community groups in the area to support referrals through the social prescribing project.

Social prescribing will also be the focus of the next West Lindsey Voluntary Sector Forum, on September 8 from 12noon to 2.30pm at the Gainsborough Uphill Community Centre.

Representatives from the community and voluntary sector are welcome at this free event, though booking is adviseda at http://bit.ly/1zTK9mD