News, reports, research from the Social Prescribing Network
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December news

Hello everyone and welcome to our new friends in the network.
What a busy year!  As we come to the end of 2017, I want to extend my gratitude to my Co-Chair Michael, the steering committee, the regional leads and those that have taken on other key initiatives within the social prescribing network.  Everyone is working out of their own good will because they believe this is the right thing to do and I am incredibly grateful for their enthusiasm and support.

2017 has quite literally seen an explosion in the interest in social prescribing across the majority of sectors. Who knew that when we first talked about setting up a network,  this is what would happen? 

Now that there are over 1400 people in the Social Prescribing Network, it is time to reflect on our successes and review our processes.  To accommodate such demand for social prescribing support, we need to work out new ways to managing the network  and find some funding that will support the time we are putting into the running of the network.  

So what happened in 2017?
  • Through out the year, we ran meetings in 7 regional networks in England, in collaboration with NHS England - all were at full capacity with waiting lists.
  • We set-up Social Prescribing Network Ireland
  • We held an amazing sell-out conference, in collaboration with the Kings Fund and NHS England 
  • We co-produced Making Sense of Social Prescribing and a critical review of the economic impact of social prescribing in primary care.  These resources were downloaded over 2000 time within the first couple of weeks.
  • Myself and other members of the steering committee have also attended numerous other meetings around the UK.
As we go forwards it is important that we don't just have an increased number of social prescribing initiatives, but we all continue to collaborate.  Otherwise we will end up with a whole new level of duplication, and we want to avoid that. 

I also know, that despite the level of interest in social prescribing, it is still extremely hard to sustain the current schemes even when the outcomes are looking good.  So I also want to take a moment to thank everyone who has contributed to schemes that now have had to stop due to disinvestment.  We hope the learning can live on and that we can help to reignite these schemes in the future.

In the rest of the newsletter we have links to book more regional events, a research paper, a report, a new report, and something for those of you who are tweeters.  Finally there is a list of contacts for regional networks and special interest groups.

I hope you all manage to rest and re-energise over Christmas as it looks like 2018 could be the Year of Social Prescribing.

Best wishes,
Co-Chair, Social Prescribing Network
Research and reports

A realist evaluation of social prescribing: an exploration into the context and mechanisms underpinning a pathway linking primary care with the voluntary sector. 
Published by Dr Bertotti et al at the University of East London, this article is useful to commissioners and practitioners involved in setting up social prescribing schemes across the UK. 

Evaluation of the Reading Well for Young People Scheme.
Published by Drs Polley and Kovandzic, this evaluation sort to explore the benefit of implementing a quality assured reading list for mental health in young people, into a secondary school and local community setting. 
The report is of interest to anyone working with young people, and commissioners of services for young people, especially around mental health.

 'Making Sense of Social Prescribing'.  
This is a co-produced guide to new commissioners and existing professionals who are active in the social prescribing field.  From different models, to risk management and governance, commissioning and evaluation checklists to making good quality referrals, we have tried to cover as much as we can.

You can download an interactive version which will link you between sections and allow you to click on web addresses to take you through to the resources you need, or you can download a print version which will allow straight forward printing. 

Impact of social prescribing
Don't forget if you are making business cases for social prescribing we have our earlier resource which critically examines the evidence for the economic impact of social prescribing.

Creative Health: The Arts for Health and Wellbeing
This comprehensive report is a must read for anyone who has an interest or wants to understand more on how the arts can have a positive impact on people's lives. 
If you would like a hard copy of the short or long report, please email your name and address to

Social prescribing network regional events

To date our regional events have been very successful  - a great mix of people and always a real buzz.  They also book up incredibly quickly.  We aim to keep organising the events so we can share the learning from one region to the next.   It is also helps us to hear what the challenges and issues are on the ground.  

The events in England are a collaboration with NHS England who are very kindly supporting the cost of the venue and catering. The social prescribing network members then help to organise the events, the content and get the speakers (for free).  The collaboraton allows us to offer the events for free.  So thank you to NHS England for collaborating with us on this.

North East, Yorkshire and Humber Social Prescribing Network Meeting takes place in Newcastle Upon Tyne on 15th January 2018. Please use this link to access any further information and book a place. 

The Midlands Regional Social Prescribing Network meeting takes place in Birmingham on 1st February 2018. Please use this link to access any further information and book a place.

The South West Regional Social Prescribing Network meeting in collaboration with the Campaign to End Loneliness.  This will be held on the 13th February, at the Watershed in Bristol. This link will take you to the registration page

Social Prescribing Network Ireland - save the date. 
The next regional meeting will be in Dublin on Thursday, March 8th 2018 at the Mercer’s Institute for Successful Ageing at St James’ Hospital in Dublin. Times to be confirmed but it will likely be an all day event (from 10:30 to 3:30 or thereabouts).
Please email to register your interest.

Media Interests

Social Prescribing Wiki
This wiki is dedicated to Social Prescribing & Self Care. It is intended as a resource for everyone who is interested in Social Prescribing & Self Care and related subject matters.

BBCs Midlands Sunday Politics

Shropshire Council were recently approached to take part in the BBC's Sunday Politics Show on 15/12/2017, to participate in a discussion about Social Prescribing across the Midlands. This was a great opportunity to highlight the work being done in Shropshire with local residents, but also to fly the flag for social prescribing across the Midlands through their leadership role as chair of the Midlands Regional Social Prescribing Network.

As a result, Jo Robins who leads the Midlands network took part in this feature on social prescribing - You can watch the 10 minute feature and the interview with Jo Robins here - it starts 50 mins into the show.

Social Prescribing Hour @SocialPresHour
You are invited to join a dedicated conversation to social prescribing on Twitter, every Wednesday, 8-9pm GMT. We currently have 600 followers that consist of CCGs, Clinical Leads for Social Prescribing, VCSEs and Housing Associations and LAs - discussing key themes, news and topics around social prescribing. The weekly @SocialPresHour will be hosted by a range of thought leaders throughout 2018.

Join the next conversation on Wednesday 20 December 8-9pm. #socialpreshour

Who to contact:

If you want to get in touch with the social prescribing network then the national email address is

The regional meetings we host are designed to facilitate networking at a more local level, so that you can learn from each other and have all those conversations you need to have when setting up and running a social prescribing scheme.  If you want to find out what is happening in your locality then here are a list of people who lead the different regional networks and how to contact them.

North West region:
We would like to that Dr James Fleming and Stephanie Driver for all their work bringing the NW region together and in organising the NW regional event in September.  James and Stephanie are now handing over to Jo Ward and Warren Escadale who will co-chair the NW region.
Emails to

North East region:
Dave Cowan: emails to

Midlands region:
Jo Robins:

East of England region
Co-Chaired by Tim Anfilogoff and Sian Brand
Emails to either or

London region:
Dan Hopewell:

South East region:
Malcolm Bray:

South West:
Richard Kimberlee:

Co-Chaired by Tony Dougherty (N Ireland) and David Robinson (ROI)  - working as one network
Emails to or as appropriate.

We have have had quite a bit of interest in bring a network together in Wales. We are currently talking with different stakeholders to make this happen.  If you are in Wales and reading this, then please register your interest with Victoria Norman who is kindly collating names in the first instance.  We will then bring all the contacts and key people together as appropriate. Emails to
Special Interest Groups:
Within the Social Prescribing Network we have 2 active special Interest Groups and one being set-up.  There only criteria is that you are active in the subject area of each group, in some way or another!

Medical Student Network and Curriculum Design
This network has been set-up and managed by Bogdan Chiva Guirca, a medical student at Exeter Medical School.  It is a collaboration between the Social Prescribing Network, NHS England and the College of Medicine.  Bogdan has been compiling a network of student champions to represent every medical School in the UK, as well as researching medical student opinions on social prescribing being taught within their curriculums. 
All emails to Bogdan at this address:

Social Prescribing and Young People
The group has been set-up by Paul Jarvis-Beesley, Head of Sport and Health at Streetgames,  and is actively talking with other people in the network who are involved with social prescribing schemes and young people.  If you would like to find out more about the discussions and research ideas, please email Paul on:

Social Prescribing and Nursing
This our next special interest group that we would like to set up.  We know that there is a huge untapped potential and learning to be gained by having a group for nurses. Michelle Howarth, who leads and MSc in Nursing at the University of Salford has kindly volunteered to bring a group together. 
If you want to find out more please contact Michelle at this address:
Other items to share

Poplar HARCA using social prescribing technology to further reduce health inequalities 

East London housing association, Poplar HARCA, has launched a new approach to health and well-being for its residents using social prescribing technology. Developed by Elemental Software, the cloud-based platform enables Poplar HARCA to make direct referrals tailored to the needs of individual residents and monitor the impact of the social prescription. The project will be piloted initially at Poplar HARCA’s St Paul’s Way Centre. Click here for further information.

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