NHSPS invests £2m transforming social prescribing sites across England

To mark Social Prescribing Day, NHS Property Services (NHSPS) has announced the transformation of 21 social prescribing sites across England.

The sites have been developed to support the NHS to deliver on the ambitions of the Long Term Plan, which has pledged to refer at least 900,000 people to social prescribing services by 2023/24.1

Social prescribing enables GPs, nurses and other primary care professionals to refer people to a range of local, non-clinical services to support their health and wellbeing – this includes activities such as gardening, cooking or art classes.

The sites provide a number of services including mental health services, baby banks and wraparound services, sensory rooms and gardens, plus community allotments and kitchen space for local charities:

  • Refurbishments were made to support the development of an onsite kitchen within Axminster Community Hospital for use by local charity, Project FOOD who run cooking classes, meals on wheels and re-enablement services
  • Full redevelopment of a unit to create six counselling rooms for mental health charity, The Listening Place within Hunter Street Medical Centre in North London
  • Conversion of space in the South East to create a community café and charity shop, which will provide mental health services, domestic abuse support, school food larder and financial support
  • Outside space at Offerton Learning Disability Resource Centre has been transformed into a multi-use garden, including growing beds, sensory garden, outdoor gym and outdoor meeting space

“As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the needs of people across England have changed. Many people are experiencing extreme isolation and loneliness, with a significant increase in mental health issues among the population. Delivering on the NHS’ social prescribing goal couldn’t be more important as we move into a post-lockdown society, and I am proud of our teams who have ensured we can provide a variety of additional services to our communities,” said Alison Davies, Head of Corporate Social Responsibility at NHSPS. “We look forward to working in close partnership with our partners and communities, to ensure we can continue to transform NHS facilities that better support the public’s health and wellbeing through social prescribing.”

To deliver these sites, NHSPS worked alongside NHS stakeholders, construction and local organisations to redesign vacant space, improving the look, feel and capabilities which will enable excellent patient care.

“NHS Property Services has been such a positive partner; we are now open seven days a week in Hunter Street and our visitors and volunteers have told us what a calm and welcoming place our third floor is for them, said Laura Fach, New Site PM, The Listening Place. “With this new location at Hunter Street, NHSPS allowed us to almost double our capacity for face-to-face appointments. We are very grateful to everyone who has helped make this happen.”

In November 2020, NHSPS and The King’s Fund published the Social Prescribing and NHS Facilities report which revealed how the NHS can carry out small changes to make better use of its estate to better support the health and wellbeing of local communities.