Voluntary Organisations Network North East (VONNE) as the North East regional VCSE infrastructure support organisation, is proud to be the North East and Yorkshire regional lead for Thriving Communities Through the programme, and alongside our regional VCSE infrastructure partners across Yorkshire and Humber, and North Cumbria, we’re supporting some fantastic Thriving Communities funded projects and helping organisations interested or already involved in delivering social prescribing activities learn more and make valuable connections. 

Here you can learn more about our regional network and the learning and development activities we offer, get inspired with examples of social prescribing in action in our region, and catch up on events you may have missed.

Meet the team

Jane Hartley, Thriving Communities North East and Yorkshire Regional Lead

Jane has many years of experience working at a senior leadership level in the North East voluntary sector, with a primary focus on health and wellbeing. A former CEO of VONNE and now Health and Wellbeing Lead Associate, Jane is also the North East & North Cumbria Regional Social Prescribing Facilitator working with NHS England and is a member of the National Social Prescribing Network Steering Committee. She is the lead for social prescribing and asset based approaches within the North East & North Cumbria Integrated Care System Population Health & Prevention Board.

Jane has many years of experience working in the North East England voluntary sector and led on the development of award winning north east charity: Pioneering Care Partnership (PCP) and their healthy living centre: the Pioneering Care Centre. Through her role with VONNE, she led the development of the NENC VCSE Partnership Programme, part of an NHS England & Improvement funded programme to support the VCSE to have a greater voice and influence within the Integrated Care Systems (ICS).

As a qualified coach and mentor, Jane is passionate about supporting voluntary sector leaders, particularly from smaller organisations in the North East with little access to leadership development support.

Jane is also Vice Chair of Ways to Wellness, the Social Impact Bond-funded social prescribing programme targeting people with long term health conditions in west Newcastle. She is a Trustee of the Greggs Foundation and Northern Heartlands CIO, which has a focus on advancing the education and engagement of disadvantaged communities via the arts.

Sarah Marrison, Social Prescribing Engagement Manager

Sarah has more than 20 years’ experience in the community regeneration and environment fields and has worked for a wide variety of organisations including community forests, local authorities and national parks, but has primarily worked for both regional and national environmental charities. Sarah has extensive experience of partnership working and planning, developing and delivering nature-based health and wellbeing interventions. More recently, through her role at Social Farms and Gardens, she has gained experience of providing strategic support and networking opportunities around social prescribing and health system engagement to those delivering green care and care farming initiatives across England.

Sarah is also Co-director of a countryside management business, and in her spare time volunteers for the Tees River Rescue charity as Fundraising Lead and a boat crew member.

Sara Toal, Health and Wellbeing Projects and Communication Coordinator

Sara provides support for VONNE’s health and wellbeing programmes for the region, including the Thriving Communities programme and Learning Together activities.

She brings extensive experience in the communications and marketing profession, having held senior communications roles in the public sector, working in both central and local government organisations for most of her career.

Sara also brings experience in the VCSE sector from her partnerships with the Community and Voluntary Service (CVS) during her time in local authority, as communications and support officer for the National Citizen Service (NCS) programme in the South East, delivered by the charity Catch22, and coordinating the communications and marketing activity for Connected Voice, the Local Infrastructure Organisation (LIO) for Newcastle and Gateshead.

Jane Hartley talks about the importance of social prescribing in connecting general practices and voluntary, community and social enterprise organisations.

Learning Together

Through our regional Social Prescribing Network we aim to help organisations working in the voluntary, community, faith and social enterprise (VCFSE) sector discover the world of social prescribing, make local connections with other organisations delivering services, meet national and local partners working across the region, and explore opportunities to develop their work in social prescribing. We offer a range of learning and networking opportunities throughout the year.

Our network is open to anyone in the VCFSE sector interested or involved in social prescribing, as well as those working in the NHS and health and care – such as social prescribing link workers and host organisations, PCN advisors and local authority health leads in the region.​

Since the programme launched in 2021, we’ve supported more than 170 voluntary and community groups and organisations build their understanding of and connect to the social prescribing landscape in our region.

Participant feedback:

“A really enjoyable process and space to be honest and accountable to one another. We are not alone!”

“I think we’ve learned to listen to each other’s experiences and put that learning in to our own work. I think we made new networks and links and provided points for reflection to help each other”.

“A really positive experience and THANK YOU for the opportunity.”

What we offer


Regional webinars – to complement the National Academy of Social Prescribing (NASP) national webinars, we offer themed webinars involving our regional partners to help participants learn about the practicalities of delivering social prescribing services in the region, learn from established services/provisions, discover how they can get involved in this growing area, and explore opportunities for the VCSE sector.

North East and Yorkshire Social Prescribing Network news and information – Monthly email update with NASP and partner news, and invitations to learning and development activities.



Our time to think: Action Learning Sets – dedicated sessions, delivered by our training and coaching partner Yes We Can Community CIC, to give participants time and space to explore options and solutions with peer professionals to develop their work in the area of social prescribing.

Leadership and management development workshops – dedicated workshops for senior leaders, delivered by our training and coaching partner Yes We Can Community CIC.



Regional Social Prescribing Network ‘connector’ sessions – to build understanding of VCFSE and NHS/Link worker roles and create new connections across the social prescribing landscape in our region, in partnership with NHS England Social Prescribing Facilitators, Learning Coordinators and link worker host organisations.

Jane Hartley, Thriving Communities Regional Lead:

Social prescribing is already transforming the lives of thousands of people across our region. We recognise that for social prescribing to work, we need to build connections between health and care partners and ensure we have a strong and vibrant local voluntary and community sector”.

“The Learning Together programme is a fantastic opportunity for local VCFSE organisations to connect with their peers, social prescribing leads, and Thriving Communities partners in the fields of arts, natural environment, financial wellbeing, physical activity and health and care.

“It’s a place to gain new ideas, develop partnerships across sectors, and to celebrate the work already happening across our region.”

Our partners

We deliver Learning Together as part of the Thriving Communities programme and supported by NASP’s national partners, Arts Council England, the Money and Pensions Service, Natural England, Historic England, NHS England and NHS Improvement, NHS Charities Together and Sport England.

We also work closely with our Local Infrastructure Organisations (LIOs) within the North East and our VCSE infrastructure partners and networks across the wider region:

Cumbria CVS

Community First Yorkshire

Smile Foundation, East Riding Humber Coast & Vale

Voluntary Action Rotherham

West Yorkshire and Harrogate Integrated Care System ‘Third Sector: Harnessing the Power of Communities’ programme.

As part of Thriving Communities we also collaborate with our regional NHS England Social Prescribing Facilitators and Learning Coordinators in the North East and Yorkshire region

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Recent posts from the North East and Yorkshire

Archaeology on Prescription

Archaeology on Prescription is a new, innovative social prescribing project that seeks to engage York’s residents in archaeology. It will improve people’s health and wellbeing, foster new social connections and improve confidence through the building of new skills [...]

Heeley City Farm – community heritage

Heeley City Farm has been successfully delivering Community Heritage Work across Sheffield and beyond since 2008. This is a friendly farm and environmental visitor centre in Heeley, at the heart of South [...]


Ann Cleeves Reading for Wellbeing project

A pilot project which will support reading and access to books for improved health and wellbeing, and backed by international bestselling author and North East resident Ann Cleeves, is being trialled across the region.

The project was initiated and part funded by Ann herself to mark the 21st anniversary of her detective character Vera Stanhope, and in recognition of the solace she’s found in stories throughout her life.

“Stories can be healing. If we’re drowning in chaotic thoughts of our own, to step inside someone else’s head, just for a while, is a kind of freedom.” – Ann Cleeves

Reading for Wellbeing involves the appointment of nine ‘Community Reading Workers’ across six local authority pilot areas: County Durham, Gateshead, North Tyneside, Northumberland, Middlesbrough and Redcar & Cleveland and co-ordinated by partners including VONNE and Office for Health Improvement & Disparities, Department of Health and Social Care and will be independently evaluated by the NIHR Applied Research Collaboration (ARC) North East and North Cumbria.

The Community Reading Workers will form part of the social prescribing community support offer and receive referrals from social prescribing link workers and a wide range of professionals working with people who may benefit from reading, access to stories and access to social networks.

Watch this news piece from ITV.

Archaeology on Prescription 

York Archaeological Trust is working alongside local residents to improve their health and wellbeing while learning new skills in archaeology, and helping to build a detailed picture of life in York.

Archaeology on Prescription is a new, innovative project being run in the shadow of York’s city walls.

Sarah Maltby, director of attractions for York Archaeological Trust, said: “We’ve had a team on site clearing the overgrown foliage, including volunteers from Good Gym, and we’ve removed the turf from the area we’re planning to dig, working with our first groups of participants from York St John’s Converge programme and Changing Lives.

“Over the coming months, we’ll extend the invitation to take part to anyone who feels they would benefit from this kind of outdoors activity – we are particularly keen to hear from people who have never been involved in a heritage or archaeology project before.”

Humber Coast and Vale Green Social Prescribing pilot

The Humber, Coast and Vale Green Social Prescribing programme is one of seven ‘test and learn’ sites in England that will examine how health and care services, working with communities and local organisations, can connect more people with nature and nature-based activities to improve their mental health and wellbeing.

Royal seal of approval for North East health drive 

A pioneering health trial, that has delivered remarkable success to people living with chronic health conditions, has attracted Royal attention.

During a visit to Discovery Museum in Newcastle, His Royal Highness Prince Charles, a long-time advocate of social prescription, met the team behind the social prescribing initiative Ways to Wellness, that supports people living in the west end of Newcastle.

Through GP referral, Ways to Wellness sees specialist link workers engage with clients to find out and tackle the root causes of their symptoms. Often it can be factors such as unemployment, overweight, debt, addiction, poor diet, poor housing that are causing the ill health.

special report on BBC Look North features Kim’s story about how Ways to Wellness supported her. Kim also met HRH Prince Charles on his visit.

Ways to Wellness was ‘incubated’ by VONNE initially in its development phase, and Thriving Communities regional lead Jane Hartley is Vice Chair.

Read more on this story here.

Edberts House Community Linking Project

Through their Community Linking Project, the team at Edberts House in Gateshead try to sort out the problems that are causing the stress by listening to patients, helping them to overcome their problems, and linking patients to services in the community that can help. Their workers walk ‘shoulder to shoulder’ with patients, for however long it takes, to resolve the issues that are troubling them.

Watch what their beneficiaries say.

You might have missed…. 

What is social prescribing, and how do voluntary and community organisations, faith groups and social enterprises connect with it? 

Hear from Regional NHS England Social Prescribing Facilitators and Learning Coordinators on how you can connect with your local social prescribing link workers. Jill Cole, Director of Northern Heartlands and Jackie Jamieson, Community Linking Project Manager, Edberts House Gateshead showcase their social prescribing schemes and provide advice and inspiration.

Webinar recording: What is social prescribing

NHS Social Prescribing Link Worker webinar series: Social prescribing best practice

A spotlight on the North East, Yorkshire and Humber featuring:

  • Sarah Gorman: Regional, NHS England and Improvement
  • Northumberland Dementia Link Worker Project
  • South Yorkshire, Link Workers & Cancer Care Review’s
  • Middlesbrough and Stockton Mind
  • Wakefield Social Prescribing Service and Micro Commissioning

You can watch the video here on the Future NHS Collaboration Platform.

You have to have an account to view this. If you have an @nhs.net / @.nhs.uk / @nhs.scot / @phe.gov.uk email you can register here.

If you have another type of email account please email england.socialprescribing@nhs.net to request an account.

Social prescribing the natural environment and physical activity webinar

Featuring regional partners Jo Newton, Natural England and Andrew Tunnah, Sport England about their work and the guidance and support they can provide organisations looking to connect with social prescribing.

Plus showcases from Mat Dove-Jones, Tees Valley Wildlife Trust, Life Skills project, and Lucy Brenkley, Forestry England on delivering their Feel Good in the Forest project.

Webinar recording: Social prescribing, the natural environment and physical activity

Social prescribing in the arts, culture and heritage

Hear from Arts Council England and Historic England, as well as the National Lottery Heritage Fund talking about their role in health and wellbeing/social prescribing, funding for the voluntary and community sector, and the importance and impact of arts, culture and heritage in the social prescribing landscape in our region.

Sunderland Culture, Heeley Development Trust and York Archaeology on Prescription also share how they developed their social prescribing programmes, the challenges they have faced and the difference it has made to their beneficiaries.

Webinar recording: Social prescribing in the arts, culture and heritage

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