Social Prescribing Innovation Hub

The Innovation Hub is an online space dedicated to encouraging and supporting creativity, collaboration and transformational activity in social prescribing.

We want to make it easier to connect you with the information you need to develop innovation in social prescribing. So, we have developed the hub to feature examples of innovation and transformation from across the social prescribing system, in one place which are summarised and easy to find. These examples aim to inspire your own innovation journey and help to inform your practice.

Want to share you own innovation story to feature on the hub? Email us at [email protected] and a member of the team will be in touch.

Innovation in Arts and Heritage

Art by Post

  • A great example of working with professional artists to reach communities who may face barriers in accessing arts venues. The work was innovative in addresses the significant digital divide in the UK, and is a strong example of ensuring that arts based social prescribing values the contributions of communities, as work was shared in arts venues across the country.

Brighton Libraries

  • An example of non-healthcare settings playing a crucial role in advancing social prescribing at a hyper-local level, through hosting link workers in community settings. Innovative in its approach to progressing a whole community approach to social prescribing, this example shows how libraries can be a valuable asset to community health needs.

Belgrade Theatre

  • The Belgrade Theatre's approach to providing social prescribing drop in sessions is an innovation in the sector, where spaces are currently reserved for activity rather than providing a space to connect people to the potential of activity. The Belgrade Theatre approach supports individuals to understand the role of link workers and what social prescribing can offer to them, in a relaxed and safe environment that supports the breaking down of barriers for individuals who may feel unable to currently access social prescribing through a more clinical route.

Hera Project

  • The Hera Project developed a new platform that aimed to bring together the clinical and creative sectors to support referrals and increase the knowledge of creative health initiatives in the Brighton & Hove area. The project created an entirely new resource for healthcare professionals in the area to utilise and now provides a wraparound offer that includes public events and training for arts and health professionals.

Patient Voices for Social Prescribing 

  • This innovative programme provided people with lived experience of social prescribing to share their experiences to help improve social prescribing services in London. Individuals were provided with storytelling training which helped to empower individuals, build their skills and provide further opportunities for those involved. The programme is a fantastic example of supporting authentic co-creation.

Herbert Art Gallery

  • The Herbert Art Gallery has created a series of innovative social prescribing activities, working with PCNs to respond directly to the health needs of the community. The activities utilise the assets within the museum, to develop creative health sessions such as their ‘Back In Time’ memory box sessions, which use photos and objects from museum collections to support older adults within the community.

Intergenerational England Toolkit

  • Intergenerational England launched the Intergenerational Creative Health Programme to showcase a practical approach to improving health outcomes in collaboration with care homes, schools, VCSE, community and Social Prescribers. They developed a toolkit which provides a model which seeks to provide communities with a centralised access point and essential structural resources for an inclusive and scalable solution that works with existing provision, inspires new partnerships and places people at the heart of their health and wellbeing.
Innovation in Communities

LGBTQ+ Switchboard

  • Switchboard Brighton & Hove has embedded a link worker which represents important developments in the way link workers can be trained to work with specific communities, and base themselves where those communities can easily access them, particularly for individuals who may have had negative experiences with primary care services.

Care Navigation Models

  • An example of innovative thinking to support PCNs in their social prescribing referrals, recognising the challenge that individuals face when needing to access a GP appointment before receiving a link worker referral. This example highlights how developing simple resources with stakeholders across the system, can have a huge impact.

Working Together Bassetlaw

  • The Bassetlaw #WorkingTogether approach is a great example of creating a whole system approach to social prescribing, creating an effective partnership model where the VCSE system sits at the heart of social prescribing in the area. This provides a two-way pathway of support and intelligence for both the service and individuals to inform and support delivery and asset development at a place level.

RVS Virtual Village Hall

  • The Virtual Village Hall is an online activity hub and community, designed to help people stay physically and mentally active, connected and having fun.

NHS Property Services

  • NHS Property Services have developed a scheme to transform vacant indoor and outdoor space into community hubs suitable for social prescribing. Since launching the programme in 2019, they have opened more than 75 social prescribing sites in England.

Church Works

  • ChurchWorks are supporting churches across England to develop innovative projects that support their communities health and wellbeing, and are developing resources to support churches in building strong relationships with their local social prescribing team. In 2023, they gathered hundreds of church leaders along with experts in mental health to equip the church to respond to the mental health needs of communities.

Cheshire Youth Justice

  • Cheshire Youth Justice Service have developed an innovative approach to meet their needs of their youth justice service users through embedding social prescribing to tackle reoffending and meet unmet health needs of the young people they work with. The approach has improved engagement and participation while also supporting children’s compliance with their court orders.

Zone West Seeker Programme

  • Zone West is a social prescribing programme for children aged 7-11, in Middlesbrough. The programme has developed a resource for replication of the programme, and share good practice for social prescribing with children and young people. The programme itself showcases innovation through its long-term approach in working across schools and GP surgeries, targeting the children most at risk of adverse outcomes, who would benefit the most from an early intervention programme. Each child is allocated a Link Worker, who will have mentoring meetings and groupwork sessions with them each week, supporting the to child identify targets.

Healthy London Partnership

  • The Healthy London Partnership has developed a toolkit to support social prescribing services to implement Social Prescribing Champions or digital platforms into their service to improve service delivery, recognising the huge challenges that services currently face to meet the weight of demand. The toolkit aims to support services to implement new innovations that support existing provision and enable greater access to social prescribing for individuals. The guide also contains top tips for reviewing the impact of innovations.
Innovation in Health Needs

Involve Kent

  • An innovative example of using volunteering to support specific health needs. As part of the NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme, Involve Kent developed the ‘Actively Involve’ programme to support individuals with Diabetes to be involved in physical and outdoor activity within the community.

Music Can

  • The Music Can platform is a strong example of providing accessible, practical and personalised information to support the social prescribing of music for dementia, increasing efficiency in provision. In developing this innovative platform, Music Can brought together stakeholders across health, social care and the creative industries, and is a therefore a great example of collaboration in innovation.

Red Cross High Intensity Use Programme

  • High intensity users of health services are a very small number of people (0.67% of the English population) who frequently attend Accident and Emergency. This Red Cross programme uses social prescribing principles to provide support to people in their communities, to minimise issues escalating resulting in the need for more urgent care. The programme has achieved a 58% reduction in A&E attendance, 67% reduction in non-elective admissions and 71% reduction in ambulance journeys, saving the NHS more than £420,000.

Barca Leeds - Urgent Care

  • This is a great example of shifting and revising social prescribing provision to meet health care needs within the community. Barca developed a new specialist Outreach Support Team (BOST) and developed an assessment model for clinicians to be able to easily assess who would benefit from the service, in order to provide specific support to people who are having frequent contact with urgent and emergency healthcare services.

Live Longer, Live Better

  • Part of the Live Longer, Live Better campaign is looking to utilise digital platforms to support effective social prescribing. The platform will use NHS Numbers as a unique identifier to enable highly personalised packages of health and wellbeing support to be collated in response to the individual user’s own NHS data and personal profile which can support link workers in making referrals and recommendations. The system also will be integrated with the Patient Electronic Health Record (EHR) and be capable of utilising SNOMED CT clinical terminology as the principle driver to support monitoring and evaluation.

Living Well Norfolk

  • The Living Well Team is formed of PCN and VCSE providers - Equal Lives, Mancroft Advice Project (MAP), Shelter (Eastern Region), Age UK Norwich and led by Norfolk Citizens Advice showcasing real collaboration and partnership to address the wider determinants of health. The service has promoted positive change by employing over 27 peer support workers with lived experience, who support individuals using the service, helping to remove barriers.

Menstrual Cycle Support

  • Menstrual Cycle Support offers an evidence-based and clinically-backed online menstrual cycle awareness course on social prescription, available in over 500 GP surgeries across the UK, and more recently, in schools with a specific course for children and young people. This is an excellent example of online innovation to support health needs, as the course provides free-lifetime-access, on-demand with a supportive and facilitated online community.

Women's Health Network

  • This innovation was designed and delivered by the Hills, Brook & Dale’s Social Prescriber Link Worker (SPLW) team. to address health inequalities by proactively engaging patients, to encourage supportive community connections and raise awareness of how to better manage their health. The SPLW team have been able to use their learning of delivering 1-2-1 patient support across the PCN, draw on the support of clinical colleagues, and capitalise on the successful relationships they have built with community partner organisations, to deliver a comprehensive schedule of patient engagement sessions to further bridge the gap between primary care and community-based support services.

Connected Care programme at Frimley ICB

  • The health of people in Slough is varied, with a life expectancy 4 years lower than the England average. Using a population health management tool, over 3,000 residents were identified in the most deprived areas and living with chronic conditions such as diabetes and hypertension and surveyed to produce a powerful dataset that informed a social commissioning offer through richer, deeper insights into patient reported needs.

Ways to Wellness

  • This pilot programme shows innovation in supporting people through social prescribing who are on the waiting list for hip and knee surgery. The Waiting Well programme targeted people using RAIDR, a population health management digital dashboard which merges elective surgery waiting lists and primary care data, to help identify patients who may need support. The pilot has shown very positive results and is set to continue until December 2025. 

Warrington Voluntary Action

  • This innovation in Warrington and Halton integrates link workers with hospital discharge teams, with access to health IT systems and data. The model ensures that the VCSE is fully involved in the discharge process, as a valued and trusted partner in the multi-disciplinary team arranging packages of support for patients going home. The Healthy & Home team take referrals for patients who are due to be discharged from hospital and are in specified target groups, including patients suffering from Long Covid, those in need of additional support at home or living in deprived wards. 

Walsall Together

  • Walsall's collaborative approach has developed a shared view on social prescribing and a higher profile in the area. They brought together a partnership committed to high-quality social prescribing that responds to the needs of communities.

South Yorkshire Housing Association

  • A coproduction approach in South Yorkshire brought together people with lived experience of multiple disadvantage to be trained and supported in developing, delivering and evaluating social prescribing services.
Innovation in Natural Environment

Nature Buddying

  • The Nature Buddies pilot developed by Natural England, was innovative in it's approach to directly respond to the barriers faced by individuals when accessing green social prescribing interventions. Using a co-design process, they structured a programme which can increase access to green social prescribing, and created a toolkit with stakeholders which supports implementation.

Defence Gardens

  • This innovation recognises that there is a need for specific social prescribing activity dedicated to particular life transitions, addressing the unique challenges veterans face. The scheme directly responded to the need for more bespoke activity that still approached wellbeing in a holistic, person-created way.
Innovation in Physical Activity

Mind Over Mountains

  • Mind Over Mountains is a mental health charity that enables people to overcome mental ill health through walking in nature, mindfulness and specialist coaching and counselling. They deliver a range of public and commissioned retreats and wellbeing walks across England and Wales which have full counselling and coaching support with qualified professionals who walk alongside individuals to provide support. Mind Over Mountains worked to link with a number of social prescribing networks across the UK, and built a set of materials for social prescribers explaining our provision and why referrals might be made.  

Angling Trust

  • The Angling Trust ‘Get Fishing for Wellbeing’ campaign is not only a great example of socially prescribed physical activity, but is also a strong example of organisations recognising the need for quality assurance of activity. The Angling Trust has developed a new mechanism for supporting Link Workers and Clinicians to understand the benefits of Angling, and to have confidence in the opportunities available.

Disability Snow Sport UK

  • DSUK are working to remove barriers to physical activity based social prescribing, and are working across the country to ensure that anyone with a disability, may it be learning, sensory or physical, can ski or snowboard alongside other people. They are currently working with both schools and social prescribing services to make accessible Snowsport available to children across the country, particularly exploring how accessible Snowsport can transform someone’s relationship with their disability, which may have wider mental health and wellbeing benefits.


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