23 January 2019

The government has announced that it will invest nearly £4.5 million in programmes to refer patients to local voluntary and community services such as walking clubs, gardening or arts activities. The funding will allow GPs to refer more patients to social activities and other types of support to improve health and wellbeing and reduce demand on NHS services.

We’re delighted that YMCA DLG is one of 23 organisations across England that have been awarded a proportion of this funding. We will set up the social prescribing scheme within our Children & Young People’s Wellbeing project, working in Brighton & Hove.

The practice, known as ‘social prescribing’, aims to improve patients’ quality of life, health and wellbeing by recognising that health is affected by a range of social, economic and environmental factors.

Evidence shows that this approach can reduce demand on NHS services: a UK study found that after 3 to 4 months, 80% of patients referred to a social prescribing scheme had reduced their use of A&E, outpatient appointments and inpatient admissions.

We will focus on engaging young people aged 13-25 with mental health difficulties who are isolated or require further outreach and engagement in order to access the help and support they need.

The funding will come from the Health and Wellbeing Fund, part of a programme of government investment in the voluntary sector. The project will be fully funded through the scheme in its first year. Additional joint funding from local commissioners will be agreed for the subsequent two years.

Cat Pritchard, our Wellbeing and Therapeutic Services Manager, said, “This funding gives us the opportunity to improve the transition between services for Children and Young People (CYP). We will be recruiting a link worker who will support young people referred in to the CYP Wellbeing Service to understand their needs and support them in to services through assertive outreach and flexible engagement. We are really excited about the impact this role could have on the lives of children, young people and families in Brighton and Hove.”