The National Lottery Community Fund has today announced over 1.5 million of funding to expand SPRING Social Prescribing, an innovative health project that is easing pressure on GPs, reducing visits to Emergency Departments and improving the wellbeing of patients across Northern Ireland and Scotland.
SPRING first received National Lottery funding in 2018 and has helped over 3,000 people, by allowing health professionals to refer patients to community-led services to help meet their non-medical needs.
The project is led by Bogside and Brandywell Health Forum in Derry/Londonderry and involves 19 partner organisations who are members of the Healthy Living Centre (HLC) Alliance in Northern Ireland and the Scottish Communities for Health & Wellbeing (SCHW).
Ryan Tracey, Programme Manager for SPRING said: We are absolutely delighted to receive this additional National Lottery funding, to support the wellbeing of more people and further embed Social Prescribing as the norm for health professionals and policy makers in Northern Ireland and Scotland.
Patients are referred to SPRING Social Prescribing with a range of issues including mental health problems or chronic pain, and many repeatedly attend their GP or ED, but have nowhere else to turn. Our Social Prescriber' partners work with each individual to create a plan to meet their needs through community activities such as support groups, exercise classes, counselling or holistic therapies.
Derry/Londonderry GP, Dr Paul Molloy, has seen first-hand the benefits of the project over the last few years.
Dr Molloy said: The social prescribing scheme has been a tremendous success and shows that taking a holistic approach to someone's health is just as important as addressing physical illness.
The benefits to physical and mental health have been reflected in positive feedback from patients and reduced levels of attendances to health services.
John Cassidy, Chair of Scottish Communities for Health and Wellbeing, an umbrella group of social prescribing partners added: It is important to think of social prescribing as more than simply a process of referral or as a method of signposting individuals to community provision. It involves building relationships, taking a holistic approach and engaging individuals at the heart of the process.
We are delighted to see SPRING Social Prescribing Project being funded for a further two years.
Thanks to National Lottery players more than 30 million a week is raised for good causes like this, going to the heart of communities across the UK.
Paul Sweeney, Chair of The National Lottery Community Fund NI Committee and member of The Fund's UK wide Board concluded: Thanks to National Lottery players the SPRING Social Prescribing project has been able to make meaningful health improvements to people across Northern Ireland and Scotland.
Bogside and Brandywell Health Forum and partners are providing a valuable connection between the health service and the community, building on the strengths that already exist, to improve peoples' lives I am looking forward to seeing the difference the new funding will make.
For more information, visit: https://www.SPRINGsp.org/who
Notes to Editors
The SPRING Social Prescribing Project has 11 community partners in Northern Ireland and eight in Scotland that serve as healthy living centres spread across both countries:
Northern Ireland: Bogside and Brandywell Health Forum; ARC Healthy Living Centre; OAK Healthy Living Centre, Resurgam Trust, County Down Rural Community Network, Clanrye, West Armagh Consortium; North Antrim Community Network, Causeway Rural and Urban Network, The H.E.A.R.T Project; Lower Ormeau Resident's Action Group.
Scotland: Healthy n Happy Community Development Trust, Healthy Valleys, Getting Better Together LTD, Annexe Communities, Your Voice, Health in Mind; Yipworld and The Hub.
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