Last weekend, before watching my cousin run the Brighton Marathon for Mind, I attended a Dance for Mood Boosting session on the Hangleton & Knoll Estate in Hove, part of the Prescribe to Thrive offer from the Robin Hood Health Foundation.
Supported by the Thriving Communities Fund, I saw the incredible colour and fun that dancing together can bring to people’s lives and how it can spark conversations that may not have been had otherwise.
What both these things really brought home to me was the importance of looking after your physical and mental wellbeing.
The programmes supported by the Thriving Communities Fund have been a huge step forward in ensuring those most vulnerable to the impacts of Covid-19 can take part in a social prescribing offer locally that is right for them. Social prescribing is all about finding out what matters to a person, and providing them with activities and opportunities that work for them. But that doesn’t mean it’s easy. There are still many barriers to participation.
I wonder how many people didn’t attend on Saturday for fear of entering the room, or anxiety at the thought of meeting new people. I wonder if the digital space offers more to those who have been shielding or who are reluctant to go out into public spaces yet. I wonder how many people are attending following a prescription from the GP or have the referred themselves to take part.
A joyful experience
Digital support has its own barriers, which is why I’ve been particularly inspired by the Robinhood Health Foundation. They organised for an engineer to visit older people’s homes throughout the pandemic to ensure they could access social prescribing activities digitally and still experience their weekly group connections.
Those who did make it on Saturday clearly had a joyful and engaging experience, which was wonderful to see. I don’t know from that one class what the ongoing impact on their physical and mental health will be, but in the moment I saw that it lifted them up.
To make sure we do know the impact social prescribing is having, we’ll be doing a full evaluation with all 37 of our Thriving Communities Fund projects by March 2022.In the meantime, we’re also learning as we go with co-designed models and projects through collaborative partnerships, which respond to the needs of communities. There’s also plenty of possibility to reflect on what we are learning about collaborative partnership working. This is particularly important as the 42 Integrated Care Systems embed into the NHS and begin to enable Personalised Care to be part of everyone’s health journey throughout their lives.
Will I be doing a marathon like my cousin? As with social prescribing, it’s about finding what is right for me. They may seem like small steps in comparison but mindful journaling, nature walks and yoga work for me to ensure my lived experience of negative mental health is kept in check.
How about you? What’s your outlet to bring you joy? What’s your #OneGoodThing?
Dulcie Alexander was the Thriving Communities Fund Programme Manager at NASP.