Many innovative organisations in West Hove are doing great work in creativity and wellbeing. However, social prescribing is underutilised 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, supporting healthcare partners with three link workers, and deliver training in arts, health and creativity for resilience to GPs. Hera Partners also include Creative Future, The Old Market and Diversity & Ability. With Funding for from Brighton & Hove City Council in the last three years, 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 primary focus will be on responding to local residents’ priorities by using co-design principles, developing a networked referral pathway system with place-based partnerships, and testing it with activities.
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.
Additionally, making it easy for GPs and healthcare professionals to access resources including 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.
The Robin Hood Health Foundation.
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