Seasons Greetings everyone

I don't know about you, but I am getting to the stage where I can see time off on the horizon but have lots of tasks to get completed first - including this newsletter.   I am flagging a bit today so I put on some Christmas crooners and am listening to "its beginning to look a lot like Christmas".  It's made me think,  if only we knew what Christmas was going to look like,  wouldn't that be great?  We've done a Delta Christmas in the UK and now we go into an Omicron Christmas. So as we wrap up 2021 I just wanted to share some reflections of this year in the social prescribing world. 

I personally feel privileged to be part of a movement that works so hard to support the most vulnerable in our society - I hope you all do too.  I am constantly in awe of the social prescribing schemes in the UK and around the world - on how you all adapt and innovate despite the most difficult conditions.  I feel gratified that the research in social prescribing is increasing exponentially and that data is supporting a greater understanding of how to make social prescribing more effective.

We have some real challenges to address in 2022 - the welfare and support for link workers who are not being valued appropriately in their roles being one of them.   Another challenge is supporting the growing number of people in our communities who are finding themselves in poverty, malnourished, in debt and out of work.  I have been talking with link workers as part of our new training course on food issues, and social prescribing is now a fundamental part of compassionately supporting these people. Another challenge is supporting funding so that the community sector is properly supported in the UK.   I wonder what your list of highs and lows are for this year?

Whether you are working through Christmas, supporting the booster campaign, missing loved ones or keeping your fingers crossed that you can see friends and family over the next couple of weeks, I hope you take some time to care for yourselves.

Thank you for continuing to support the Social Prescribing Network and keep social prescribing!


Co-Chair, Social Prescribing Network


4th International Social Prescribing Network Conference updates                                                 

Second Keynote Speaker announced
We are delighted to announce that Lee Kheng Hock and the SingHealth Community Hospital Team in Singapore will be our Keynote speakers on day 2 of our conference.  The team were winners of the Best International Social Prescribing Scheme award last year and we are excited to learn how social prescribing has adapted and evolved in a hospital setting in Singapore.     You can book your place at the virtual two-day conference here.

Abstract submission update
Our research abstract submission closed last Friday - thank you to everyone who submitted, we had nearly 60 submissions.   The variety of research  highlights how far social prescribing has come.  A big thank you to our research committee who are already underway peer reviewing submissions   - we anticipate letting everyone who made a submission know the outcome in early January 2022.

Social Prescribing Awards 2022 - Deadline 20th December

Thank you to everyone who has submitted an entry for the Social Prescribing Network Awards - you have just a few days left to get your entry in as the closing date is December 20th so make sure to enter - you can find out more information on the different categories and enter at Chamberlain Dunn.

Below you can read about some more of the awards that you can apply for - we would like to say a big thank you for the organisations who have come on board to support these awards.      

Best International Project
Award for the best project or initiative large or small underway anywhere in the world outside the UK (local, regional or national) containing elements that are transferable to other countries and health systems.

Sponsored by the National Academy of Social Prescribing


The Most Inspirational Person
Award for the most inspirational person: a person who has benefitted from a social prescribing scheme and has gone on to either give back to the scheme, volunteer in another project or to set up their own enterprise or business or someone you view as inspirational for another reason. 

Sponsored by NHS England and NHS Improvement, Personalised Care Group


More awards still available for entry include:

Award for the Best Children and Young People Social Prescribing Project: projects that have innovated social prescribing to support children and young people.

Award for the Best Student Social Prescribing Champion:  a healthcare student who has committed to supporting peers and medical professionals to understand more about social prescribing and its importance in education.

Award for the Best Nature Based Social Prescribing Project: nature-based projects (large or small, urban or rural) that are helping to support people’s health and wellbeing in your community.

Training course - Understanding food related issues for link workers


In November and December, we ran our first two 'Understanding food related issues for link workers' training courses. We have been delighted to be able to host these courses on behalf of The College of Medicine and thanks to The AIM Foundation we are running them for free.

We have received really positive feedback on the courses so far. Our evaluation data shows link workers feel more confident talking about food related issues with clients after attending the course, particularly around malnutrition.   Link workers have also been grateful to discuss professional boundaries, go through case studies and have some self care support for themselves. 

It has been fantastic for us to also learn from the wonderful link workers who have attended the courses and  update our resource pack that accompanies the course with some of their input.  We have two more courses in January which are now available to book here.   A certificate of attendance is available for people who attend the full course.


Research papers for this month

Every month we are sharing three research papers on aspects of social prescribing.   There is a lot of research being published now and we want to help bring the research to your desktop!

First off have a read of this paper from
Andrea Costa and team (2021)  in Portugal: Developing a social prescribing local system in a European Mediterranean country: A feasibility study to promote active and health aging.  This is mixed methods research involving health practitioners and highlights enablers, barriers and benefits related to implementing social prescribing.

The next paper is from Charlotte Featherstone and team (2021) in the SW of England, investigating the Health and wellbeing outcomes and social prescribing pathways in community-based support for autistic adults: A systematic mapping review of reviews.  Amongst other things the paper suggests how social prescribing could be adapted to improve accessibility for autistic people.

The final paper this month is very topical from Claire Zhang and team (2021): Social prescribing for migrants in the United Kingdom: A systematic review and call for evidenceThe review highlights the need for link workers to receive appropriate training on how to support migrants to address the wider determinants of health, amongst other things.  If you are support migrants in your social prescribing schemes, I am sure the authors would be interested to hear from you. 

Social Welfare Advice & Benefits training  

Bromley By Bow Centre and The Benefits Training Co. are running an 'Introduction to Social Welfare Advice and Welfare Benefits for Social Prescribing Link Workers' to help in understanding the welfare benefits system and how to work with clients with benefits advice needs.  It is three 2.5 hour live interactive online sessions on January 25th, February 1st and 8th, 2022.

By the end of the course, participants will:

  • Be able to identify signs that someone has a social welfare advice issue
  • Build knowledge on the range of issues social welfare advice services can support with
  • Understand what a link worker can help with and what needs to be addressed by a trained advisor
  • Understand how to make an effective referral to social welfare advice services
  • Understand how the benefits system is structured and who can claim each of the benefits which make up the system
  • Be able to complete a basic benefits check to ensure people are claiming their likely entitlements
  • Know how to check that a benefits decision is correct and what to do if it is not

You can book online at Eventbrite.  A 10% discount is available for anyone who books more than one space.

Social Prescribing- Sharing the learning 

The first of a programme of shared Learning webinar sessions hosted by Elemental Software kicks off on 27th Jan 2022 with the focus of enhancing relationships with community providers through digital social prescribing.  This programme is being delivered by those social prescribers and community providers using Elemental in regions across England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland.

Check out Elemental  for models of good practice and get in contact with the team to discuss if and how they can help you achieve your vision for scaling, measuring the uptake and impact of your service and increasing access to social prescribing. 

Register here for the webinar:

Research for older people survey

Would you like to complete a survey about what you think is important to older people living with frailty?

A group of researchers based in Leeds and Bradford are asking older people, their carers, and health and social care professionals to complete a short survey. From this, they aim to find out what matters most to older people in their everyday lives, and what could be improved. The survey results will be used to direct future research to the areas identified as the most important.                     


If you work with older people in the community, the researchers would value your views. You can access more information and the survey here.

Do you have something you would like use to share? Tweet us @SocialPrescrib2 or send an email to

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The SPN is part of the College of Medicine which is a registered charity in England and Wales (1145676) and is a registered company (07081291). The College of Medicine’s registered office is c/0 West & Berry, Mocatta House, Trafalgar Place, Brighton, BN1 4DU. 
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