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My reflections on social prescribing

As part of the Connect Well social prescribing service, ‘Wellbeing Coordinators’ sit in GP surgeries across North Leeds and connect surgery patients, who have a non-medical need, to information, support, activities, and advice.

In our role we meet adults from all walks of life with all sorts of needs. We are therefore required to know ‘a little bit about a lot’ in Leeds and what groups/services/amenities are available. On any given week we might connect people to things ranging from; benefits advice, Tai Chi classes, talking therapies, to domestic violence support. It’s a mixed bag!

Although the main focus of our work is connecting people to other services, we often find ourselves offering emotional support. For example, although our main action may be to connect someone to housing support, we may find, through listening and asking the right kinds of questions, that they feel totally alone in their life. This could open the door to having another couple of sessions with them to discuss how they might make small changes that could reduce their sense of loneliness.

In my time as a social prescriber I have grown especially fond of three very simple questions: ‘How does your life look day to day?’, ‘What’s your passion?’ and ‘What sorts of things have you done in the past that have helped?’

People consistently come up with interesting and useful ideas for themselves. Using their responses as a foundation, we might come up with just one small change that they can make right now, this week. For example, someone very isolated might speak about previously enjoying nature walks with friends. To help bring this back into their life, we might start with me printing directions to a nearby park for them to walk to, on their own, for a short walk. This one step (if you’ll pardon the pun) can lead to another small step the following week, and so on.

Sometimes it is one small question which can, over time, lead to a significant change in a person’s life.

Harry, Wellbeing Coordinator, Connect Well Leeds North

To find out more about our Connect Well Leeds North service click here