Prescribe to thrive – embedding social prescribing in Hove for 100 residents and practitioners

  • Building on existing successes in West Hove, an area vulnerable to COVID-19’s impact
  • Working with partners The Hangleton and Knoll Project, BHCC Active for Life, Citizens Advice, Creative Future and researchers at Coastal Creatives
  • Tailored social prescribing boosted by funding 
  • Aligned with parallel CCG- and City Council-funded projects for long-term impact 
  • 100 residents will access social prescribing to improve physical and mental health and wellbeing  
  • Creation of a community-owned model for increasing impact of Social prescribing in a deprived neighbourhood 

West Hove is home to many innovative organisations doing great work in creativity and wellbeing. However, social prescribing is under used by GPs in the area. The Robin Hood Health Foundation and key community partners will use their Thriving Communities funding to broaden social prescribing options through more varied range and content, as well as consolidate existing cross-sector programmes and amplify patient involvement. They will work with everyone from Brighton and Hove Libraries to the South Downs National Park, and run activities that vary from photography walks to creative workshops, as well as encourage people to get out in the fresh air.   


“Research shows that exercise, confidence-building activities, volunteering and arts and crafts provision are sorely wanted, but travel and cost are barriers. Key to addressing this are tailored social prescribing activities. The Thriving Communities Funding will enable us to reach more people, with an offering that works for them,” says Emma Drew from Hera  


Prescribe to Thrive aims to see 100 residents experience improved self-reported physical and mental health and wellbeing; new social support and reduced isolation; improved access to finance and benefits support; increased access to creativity; higher awareness of activity available locally; increased confidence to access opportunities; reduced need for GP appointments; and reduced use of unneeded medication, delivered through an increased uptake in social prescribing.  


The project is backed by some great experience. Lead organisation The Robin Hood Health Foundation, of the Hera Partnership, has delivered arts-led participatory health and wellbeing programmes since 2014. They led the East Hove COVID Support Group for 600 shielding patients, support healthcare partners with three link workers, and deliver training in arts, health and creativity for resilience to GPs. The other Hera Partners are Creative Future, The Old Market and Diversity & Ability. Funded for three years by Brighton & Hove City Council, their work has four strands: professionally-led creative participation for those living with ongoing health concerns; professional development for arts and health practitioners; accessibility and diversity training; and exhibitions and performances to raise awareness of the benefits of creativity to health and wellbeing. 


Working closely with the community and the Hangleton and Knoll project, the project will receive referrals from various organisations, and self-referrals. The focus will be on responding to local residents’ priorities by using co-design principles, developing a networked referral pathway system, and testing it with activities. Place-based partnerships will be crucial for identifying priorities and responding to them.  


There are many challenges in the area. Residents face higher COVID vulnerabilities than other localities in the region, including six times greater risk from death from the disease. This is on top of the highest heart failure and diabetes rates in the locality, higher incidence of depression, high food vulnerability and hardship scores, a high percentage of impoverished pensioners, and a significant proportion of children in unemployed families.  


The aim is that by working with arts partners such as Fabrica and Brighton Dome & Festival, alongside creative agencies such as the Arts & Creative Industries Commission, Arts & Wellbeing and Open UP Arts strands of the Cultural Framework, and through the recently updated Brighton & Hove Cultural Recovery Plan, alongside the full range of communities reached by the project, artists disproportionately impacted by COVID will also see rewards.  


It’s also about making it easy for GPs and healthcare professionals to use social prescribing. Briefing and taster sessions, information resources, and clear and simple videos and guidelines will encourage further take up of social prescribing.  


The project will all be aligned with parallel CCG- and City Council-funded work being developed through the HKP-supported West Area Health Forum and through Hera, including annual health checks for patients with learning disabilities; establishing a community-based pilot site of first contact mental health practitioners; and peer led health improvement projects.  


The work undertaken as a result of the Thriving Communities Fund will increase the take up of social prescribing, by demonstrating value and impact, and establish an evidence base for use not only in Hove but beyond. 

Lead partner – The Robin Hood Health Foundation 

Region – South East 

Pillar – arts and culture, nature, physical activity, advice 

Hera Partnership

Photo credit: David Hodges

For the full list of partners, projects and funding visit  

Thriving Communities Funded Project

Ideas Hub

Published 18th March 2021

David Hodges