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UK government commits £5m to Covid-19-related social prescribing

The Department of Health and Social Care has awarded The National Academy for Social Prescribing (NASP) £5m to help tackle loneliness and improve wellbeing including recovery from COVID-19.

Working with partners, including Arts Council England, Natural England, Money and Pensions Service, NHS Charities Together, Sport England and NHS England, NASP will support a range of local community activities. Projects include singing to improve the effects of Covid-19, art for dementia, football to support mental health, and improving green spaces.

English National Opera (ENO) have partnered with Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust to devise an integrated 6-week pilot programme of singing, breathing and wellbeing. ENO Breathe is being developed as an improvement in care specifically for patients recovering from COVID-19, particularly those who are suffering from breathlessness and the anxiety this can produce. It is the first programme of its kind being developed for these patients.

About social prescribing

The National Academy for Social Prescribing funds and supports innovative local community partnerships, improving evidence, share good practice and raise the profile of social prescribing link workers (SPLW), who work as part of the NHS, to connect people to community support in their local areas.

Social prescribing is a core part of the NHS approach to delivering targeted Personalised Care and is currently being expanded across England and the National Academy for Social Prescribing is a new independent organisation, launched in October 2019, to promote social prescribing and create a ‘social revolution in wellbeing’.

‘Social prescribing will be key to tackling health inequalities’

Minister for Health Jo Churchill said:

‘This new funding is hugely important, as it will allow us to build on the merits of social prescribing and encourage innovation in local projects, as well as supporting people to remain connected with their local community, reduce loneliness and improve their wellbeing.

‘GPs and social prescribing link workers have been working incredibly hard to support their patients through this challenging time. As we begin to support the move out of lockdown, social prescribing will be key to tackling health inequalities and helping people recover and rebuild their lives.’

James Sanderson, Chief Executive Officer of the National Academy for Social Prescribing, said:

‘Now more than ever, the pandemic has shown the value of social prescribing in helping people to stay connected, feel supported and to maintain their wellbeing.

‘The National Academy for Social Prescribing has an ambitious agenda to support people to live the best life they can by accessing support in their local communities based on what matters to them. We will be working with key partners across national and local government, the NHS, and the voluntary and community sector to build the support structures necessary to enable social prescribing to thrive.’

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