The National Academy for Social Prescribing has today launched its blueprint for supporting social prescribing across the country which includes a £1 million fund and backing from major national partners – Arts Council England, National Garden Scheme and Southbank Centre.

The Academy also calls on each local NHS body to develop a local social prescribing plan to outline how they will work with local community groups and the voluntary sector to help ensure the availability of social prescribing in their community. The Academy will also offer support to achieve this.

Social prescribing aims to support people to stay healthy in ways that go beyond pills and medical procedures through better connections with their local communities. It works by referring people to a local social prescribing link worker, who then helps identify new opportunities for that individual, such as walking-football and walking clubs, dance classes, choirs and other local support services

Speaking at the launch of the Academy’s new home at the Southbank Centre, Chair, Helen Stokes Lampard called for local partners to begin forging new relationships:

“I’m absolutely delighted to launch this creative blueprint for developing new partnerships across the country. We anticipate that the Academy and the new Fund will help to support the increasing availability of social prescribing across the country – enabling more people to make meaningful connections within their community and reap the health and well-being benefits.

“We are calling on local systems to bring together all relevant partners to support the remarkably rich community assets that already exist across the country, this will enable social prescribing to flourish.

“The National Academy for Social Prescribing will help advocate for  and actively support local communities’ groups so they can assist  with connecting more people,  who in turn will reap the benefit of living healthier for longer.”

GPs report that at least one in five people they see  are presenting problems that are fundamentally ‘non-medical’, for example related to, loneliness, debt or poor housing. Up to another one in five people live with a condition or symptoms where current medical therapies do not have  a therapeutic role.

Using social prescribing, GPs or other healthcare professionals, can refer people to a local social prescribing ‘link worker’ who then works alongside them, understanding their unique needs and  then helping them link into their local community and discover new opportunities which can help them keep well for longer.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said:

“I’m a massive fan of social prescribing. I founded the National Academy for Social Prescribing to bring health, arts, culture, sport and communities together around the principle that prevention is better than the cure.

“It’s essential that we build on momentum since the Academy’s launch and this new fund will catalyse work to improve local people’s health and wellbeing. We will build on the evidence base to deliver on our NHS Long Term Plan ambition to help almost one million more people to benefit from social prescribing.”

James Sanderson Director of NHS Personalised Care and interim CEO, National Academy for Social Prescribing said;

“We know that a one-size-fits-all health and care system that simply cannot meet the increasing complexity of people’s needs and expectations. Social prescribing has the potential to change lives by helping people to live fitter, healthier lives and combat anxiety, loneliness and depression. This why the NHS, through the Long Term Plan, will help a further 2.5 mill people benefit from personalised care by 2024, including 900,000 people referred to social prescribing.”

Mags Patten, Executive Director Public Policy and Communication, Arts Council England said:

“Taking part in singing, dancing or simply connecting with others, through arts and culture can boost our health and well-being.  I’m excited to see how much more we can achieve through strong partnerships like the one with NASP, bringing together our museums, libraries, artists and arts organisations with public health professionals.”

George Plumptre, CEO, National Garden Scheme

“The National Garden Scheme has pioneered promoting the link between gardens and people’s health since 2016 when we commissioned the King’s Fund to publish their ground-breaking report, Gardens and Health. As part of this work we will be actively supporting the integration of gardens into social prescribing which will no doubt flourish with the launch of the Academy.”

Marian Spain, CEO, Natural England said:

“A thriving natural environment is the answer to three big challenges we are facing as a society: poor physical health and mental wellbeing; the impacts of climate change and the devastating declines in biodiversity. The evidence is clear that access to a high-quality environment is a cost effective way to improve health and reduce health inequalities.

“That’s why I’m delighted to support the National Academy for Social Prescribing’ blueprint for social prescribing,  which will use  nature as one of the ways to help everybody stay healthy for a lifetime. Natural England is proud to be working closely with the National Academy to give health practitioners the skills they need to help people from all walks of life connect with nature as part of their day to day lives.”

Gillian Moore CBE, Director of Music at the Southbank Centre, said:

“The evidence of the benefits the arts can have on mental and physical health at all ages are clearly documented and as such the work of the National Academy for Social Prescribing has never been more urgent. People’s wellbeing and their access to arts are important issues which the Southbank Centre is committed to addressing in its day-to-day work.

“We are delighted to be welcoming the National Academy for Social Prescribing team to work alongside us in the Southbank Centre offices. We hope that this close proximity will allow us to work together to develop programmes ensuring the role of arts in improving the lives of people is fully understood and implemented.”

Victoria Hume, Director, Health & Wellbeing Alliance

“The Culture, Health & Wellbeing Alliance will be working in partnership with the National Academy for Social Prescribing on the development of its Partners Programme, and in particular on building a Code of Ethics for cultural and creative practice in social prescribing. The Culture, Health & Wellbeing Alliance is a membership organisation supported by Arts Council England to bring together all of us who are invested in the relationship between creativity and culture, and health and wellbeing.”



  • The National Academy for Social prescribing has been established to champion social prescribing and the work of local communities in connecting people for health and wellbeing. It has also started to create partnerships across the arts, health, sports, leisure, and the natural environment on a national and local level. A social revolution in wellbeing: our strategic plan 2020-23 outlines how the Academy will continue to expand and achieve this over the next four years.
  • Alongside the announcement of this new funding and partnership work, the Academy will also be announcing a strong agenda to support the development of social prescribing, including:
  • The planned launch of a social prescribing partners programme that will see thousands of organisations connected with common purpose
  • The establishment of an academic partners programme fund to develop the evidence base and identify the resources currently available for social prescribing. There will be £500K worth of research grants available to ensure we secure the evidence base as a priority.
  • The £1 Mill Social Prescribing Development Fund will be a new resource for local community groups and organisations to help them reach new audiences and geographical areas. It will help to stimulate more local community partnerships , alongside some additional support from key national  The Academy will work with a variety of  regional and national partners and the Fund will be open later this summer.
  • This Fund will also include additional support from two exciting national partners: –
  • Arts Council England has pledged £250K over the next 24 months to specifically focus on partnership funding for local arts and cultural organisations.
  • National Garden Scheme is launching its new Community Gardens Award to which it has made a commitment of £100,000 in 2020. This will fund more than 40 local gardening projects which will all improve community health and 20% of which are specific social prescribing projects managed by primary health professionals.
  • In addition, the Southbank Centre will be the home of the National Academy for Social Prescribing, with their team working out of the Southbank Centre offices from March 2020. The two organisations are developing joint activities which will be announced in due course.

Read the strategic plan in full

Read our latest background media brief

For media queries, please contact Nicola Hawdon, Communications Manager mob: 07714 777 041

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