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By Local Pilot, GM Moving | 09 March 2023 | TAGS: Local Pilot, Stockport, Social Prescribing

A group of partners have come together in Bramhall, Stockport to explore how new social prescribing approaches can be tested.

As part of the ONE Stockport Active Communities Strategy, the group aims to improve the connections between GPs and local voluntary opportunities.

The project will utilise the social prescribing service in Stockport, Viaduct Health, with partners including Stockport Council Public Health, GreaterSport, Boost, Life Leisure, Sector 3, GM Integrated Care Partnership and Pure Innovations.

The partnership are starting to work with the local Primary Care Network (PCN) in Bramhall, which has a prevalent older age group demographic.

Work will focus on tackling isolation, falls prevention, muscular skeletal problems, and low mental health.

What is social prescribing?

Social Prescribing connects people to activities, groups and services in their community that can meet the practical, social, and emotional needs that affect their health and wellbeing.

Physical activity can play a huge role in this, in terms of the benefits it can bring not only for physical health, but also mental health.

It can be something that GPs can identify as an approach to help those who suffer from anxiety, poor mental health, and social isolation, rather than prescribing medication.

However the mechanism for GPs to signpost or refer people to physical activity opportunities, within their local area is not always simple.

In the first instance, there is a distinction between Signposting and a Referral.

  • Referral – To refer someone into a commissioned service
  • Signposting – Identifying assets and services in the local area that are available to access.

What’s happening in Stockport?

In Stockport, there is a strong referral pathway between the GP and the Physical Activity Referral in Stockport (PARiS) scheme, delivered by Life Leisure and Stockport’s Public Health team.

It aims to help inactive people with chronic mild to moderate medical conditions become and stay more physically active, whilst benefiting and improving their health.

However, there isn’t always the same mechanism or level of support for those patients that have a lower clinical need, who frontline healthcare staff may want to signpost into voluntary, community and social enterprise (VCSE) opportunities.

There are numerous reasons for this including:

  • There isn’t one place (website/organisation) that details all of the opportunities and programmes.
  • GPs might not have a good understanding of the opportunities available, so might not want to direct people to something they don’t know is suitable.
  • Voluntary organisations might not be equipped to support a person’s needs, who has been signposted to them.   

It is hoped, that by bringing these services together, it will develop more established and trusted relationships.

In turn, a clearer and more effective pathway should emerge, to connect people back into their local community, utilising physical activity as a catalyst for change.

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