Firstly I want to say thank you! As an older person staying at home in the coronavirus crisis, I want to thank all the social prescribing link workers and other wonderful people who are looking after so many in our community and to offer you some help.
People already have so many needs for crucial information to help them to keep going. We know that 1 in 5 GP appointments focus on wider social needs : poor and insecure housing, debt, benefits, employment issues, family issues and domestic violence. And the task just got harder. Where do you start?
Online help for you
I’d suggest you go straight to Advicenow which is a website that handpicks the best information and guidance on the web about all these issues so you can find it all in one place. I’m Chair of the charity, Law for Life, that runs Advicenow. Our aim is to make it easy for you to find what you need as quickly as possible and to give you practical advice, tips, tools and detailed guides to help resolve problems.
Right now the first thing you’ll see is a section on Coronavirus that tells you all the basics , starting from Gov.UK’s advice on staying at home, self isolating and shielding and then linking you to information on sick pay, self isolation sick notes, benefits, housing problems., debt, employment.
Behind that you will find resources on many of the topics that people raise when they are struggling and seek help from the doctor and then from you. The website will help you with active signposting in these difficult times as it is constantly updated and links to wider resources. We aim to build knowledge, skills and confidence for our users. This will sound familiar to you as these are the same aims as NHS England has for supported self management.So you will know already how well that can work, just as we know from our user feedback.
We know that nearly half our users have a disability; nearly half are on low incomes. So we are already used and valued by people who were struggling before this crisis. We know that more than a quarter of our users are supporting a family member, friend or client whom they are helping in a professional or volunteer capacity. In other words – people like you.
I can see from a blog on the NALW site that you as link workers are already tackling these problems amid wider issues of health and wellbeing : “Helping a mother find accommodation, helping a lady lose weight, helping a COPD patient contact the council for house repairs, helping a gentleman get his universal credit back……”
Some top links for you
We want to help you tackle these problems with expert resources at your finger tips for housing and disability and sickness benefits visit our webpage for top picks.
Up to date information on benefits will be in the Coronavirus section because it is changing so fast that we need to give you the most up to date information
You can also find support on family issues, and domestic violence, and you can find help on our website as we understand that lots of people will be experiencing these issues.
We’re here to help you – please share and feedback what more you need
Many of you as link workers will already have expertise in these areas but we have your back with up to date resources that can really help you. We know that welfare benefits advisors use our PIP Tool because it speeds up their work and helps their clients understand how they can challenge a PIP assessment. Even experts need a bit of back up sometimes and that’s what we would like to do for you.
Amanda Finlay CBE, Chair, Law for Life