We look back at highlights from the first annual Social Prescribing Show.

On 4th March, we were delighted to welcome people working across the health, arts and voluntary sectors to our first Social Prescribing Show at the SouthBank Centre. The Show marked the start of Social Prescribing Week, a series of events, activities and launches leading up to Social Prescribing Day on 10th March.

The Show explored a wide range of initiatives, spotlighting the impact social prescribing is having on communities and on our healthcare networks. There were panels on the importance of supporting link workers and discussions around the ways in which we can all enhance the power of community stories. There was even a half hour dance class with the ‘Mix and Move’ dance company that got everyone on their feet.

A Global Revolution in Healthcare

The day began, however, on a more serious note. In his opening address our CEO James Sanderson emphasised the important role that social prescribing can play in our society and the scope of what it can achieve.

He cited sobering statistics, highlighting the limits of biomedicine: “Biomedicine is fantastic and we have seen that in action with the COVID-19 vaccine… However, because of those social determinants we know that biomedicine isn’t going to be the only answer. This is illustrated by a recent review into over-medicalisation, that shows that one in five people over the age of 65 that are in hospital, are in hospital not because of the condition they are living with, but because of the medications that they are taking.

“I think social prescribing provides a revolution in health and wellbeing, not just for people living in this country, but globally… A downstream crisis management health system is not going to work any more. We need to be properly investing in prevention and in upstream support.”

A wide range of solutions

Expertly MC’d by spoken word artist, Kamal Ellis-Hyman, these opening words were reflected in the rest of the day, as each panel demonstrated the power that social prescribing can have on the health of a community. The whole NASP team walked away feeling inspired and energised by the enthusiasm and examples of innovation the guest speakers and audience brought to the conference.

To quote Kamal’s spoken word poem, which he performed live to round off the day: “What if you were prescribed a social engagement, a social arrangement to get pep in your step in your feet on the pavement….With a wide range of solutions to help you get through, a social prescription could help you, too.”

Social Prescribing Day

In the days following the Show, there were a wide range of events and activities to showcase social prescribing, culminating in #SocialPrescribingDay on 10th March, when thousands of people celebrated social prescribing online. We were delighted to launch new evidence summaries about social prescribing, and to invite national voluntary organisations and NHS staff to get involved through the Accelerating Innovation and NHS champions programmes.

We also took part in the International Social Prescribing Network Conference, and were pleased to welcome the establishment of our sister organisation in Canada, the Canadian Institute of Social Prescribing.

Thank you

A huge thank you to all the speakers who took part in the Social Prescribing Show, including representatives from the Southbank Centre, the Arts Council England, Sparks Somerset, Archaeology on Prescription, the NHS, NALW, Carers UK, Rotary, Rethink Mental Illness, History England, Global Prescribing Alliance and St Margaret’s House.

Also, a special thank you to Sian Slade from the University of Mebourne, Dr Kate Mulligan from the Dalla School of Public Health and Professor Kheng Hock Lee from Singhealth Community Hospitals for appearing on video link to talk about the growing global social prescribing movement.