Volunteers in London

Social prescribing gets National Lottery boost

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Green Gym participants

TCV will develop how social prescribing can be used by clinicians thanks to a £397,000 National Lottery grant from the Big Lottery Fund the largest funder of community activity in the UK.

Using the National Lottery grant, TCV will work with NHS England, local healthcare services, commissioners, academics and charities to inform when and how social prescribing is used to help people living with specific health issues, such as mental health problems and musculoskeletal disorders. This will include developing and piloting a quality assurance and evaluation framework to measure different social prescribing models.

Social prescribing recognises how social, economic and environmental factors affect people’s health, where medication alone is unlikely to provide a sustainable improvement. It connects patients with support in their local community to help address their health issues holistically and give them greater control of their own health and wellbeing.

TCV’s Green Gym programme, now in its 20th year, is already part of the social prescribing process, reflecting its positive impact on both physical health and mental wellbeing. This experience and TCV’s strong links across the health, academic and the wider charitable sectors, puts it in an ideal position to deliver this exciting project.

Derek Bardowell, Senior Head of UK Funding at the Big Lottery Fund, said: “Using National Lottery funding, TCV will work to improve access to social activities that clinicians have identified as beneficial to our health and wellbeing, and develop a consistent way to measure their impact so that social prescribing can become even smarter and better-targeted in the longer-term.” 

Bev Taylor Senior Choice Manager – Social Prescribing Strategy and Innovation Directorate at NHS England, stated: “We’re delighted to be working with The Conservation Volunteers on this important programme. Their work in developing a Quality Assurance Framework for social prescribing schemes will be extremely helpful in giving GPs the confidence to refer people with wider social needs to community projects, through social prescribing connector schemes.’

TCV believes that people improve their physical and mental health and wellbeing by being outdoors, active and connected with others.  Voluntary sector activities such as our award-winning Green Gym programme help people to take better control of their health.  With this generous support from the Big Lottery Fund, we’re looking forward to combining our expertise with that of NHS England, and other partners, to develop the tools needed to see more of these activities prescribed across the UK. 

Darren York, CEO TCV