International Social Prescribing Day 2021

It’s International Social Prescribing Day this week and we’re celebrating the work of our West Lancs Social Prescribing Service which has continued to transform people’s lives during this toughest of years.

Having started as a pilot project in Skelmerdale in 2018, the service now covers the whole of West Lancs and has worked with over 5,000 people since its inception.

Social prescribing aims to get to the root causes of people’s ill health and bring about lasting change.  Our health is influenced by a wide range of things in our lives such as housing, money, food, work, money, and social networks – and changes to improve them can have a radical effect on our wellbeing.  Social prescribing is all about relationships and collaboration – starting to knit things together and look at things as a whole.  This video gives a great summary of how it works:

Our West Lancs Social Prescribing Service works with people who have been referred by their GP and is funded by the local NHS CCG.  One of our Social Prescribing Team Leaders, Nicci Sutton-Kelsall says

‘We work with people one to one to identify the non-medical issues affecting people’s health and look at the range of services that could help.  We work in partnership with the person to identify the best social or physical activities in the community, and then help them connect with them, and stay alongside on their journey to improved wellbeing’.

Social Prescribers can introduce people to a wide range of support locally, many of which is provided by voluntary sector organisations across West Lancs including:

  • Bereavement support group
  • Gardening and growing
  • Learning digital skills
  • Film, music and & walking groups
  • Social and healthy activities
  • Knit and natter groups
  • Singing for health

They also make sure that feedback is given to the referring GP as to how the person are progressing. These case studies show how this really makes a difference to people’s lives:

Throughout the last very difficult year, the Social Prescribing service has proved invaluable, offering vital support for the most vulnerable people in West Lancashire. The team has been focusing on delivering support to those who are shielding or are considered ‘extremely clinically vulnerable’ during lockdown. Even though face to face contact has proven a challenge, the team has risen to this and continue to take referrals from GPs.

Robert* is one such referral who came to us with depression and anxiety and needing to talk.  The service was able to identify that financial and debt advice would make a big difference and referred him to several local organisations including SWLICAN and Citizens Advice West Lancs for help.  Referrals to Man-archy, Mindsmatter, the mental health crisis team, and Counselling West Lancs have greatly supported his mental health, and Ormskirk Food Bank and Tarleton & Hesketh Bank Helpers have been able to give him day to day physical help.  We were also able to secure him a DEFRA Covid Emergency Grants from the Borough Council.  Robert says

this service has put me in touch with the right people and literally saved my life. I’m in better place now because of the Social Prescribing Service and I can’t thank them enough!’

Another client, Hana* was diagnosed with cancer, and our social prescriber was able to refer her to the Macmillan West Lancs Team and the Family and Wellbeing Service.  Hana says

‘your support has been fantastic and I’m thankful for people who take the time to listen and understand my story. Thank you to the Social Prescribing Team, it has been lovely to speak to you. It’s really nice to know I have the support from some amazing, kind-hearted professionals’

To find out more about the CVS Social Prescribing Service, check out our Social Prescribing page or contact the Development & Strategic Lead, Jacqui Sutton on

* Names have been changed to protect identity