Blackburn with Darwen among social prescribing projects to help communities thrive across England, thanks to £1.8 million fund

Published Friday 19 March 2021 at 16:13

The National Academy for Social Prescribing (NASP) and Arts Council England, Historic England and Natural England, NHS England and Improvement, Sport England, the Money and Pensions Service and NHS Charities Together, as part of the Thriving Communities Programme, will fund 37 community projects up to £50,000 each to further advance social prescribing and support communities as they recover from COVID-19.

  • Over £47k for local BwD project through the Thriving Communities Programme
  • Projects will tackle loneliness, improve wellbeing and help communities recover from COVID-19
  • Helping support people to stay connected and maintain their health and wellbeing.

A range of local voluntary, community, faith and social enterprise groups – two of which are in Lancashire – will be given grants to support projects that unlock the power of social prescribing in their local areas, bringing together place-based partnerships across arts and culture, heritage, nature, physical exercise, financial wellbeing, health and care.

The local project is The Bureau Centre for the Arts CIC – Thrive Blackburn and Darwen. Through the creation of a social prescribing hub venue at the Bureau and a co-created outdoor space, partners will link arts provision with green recovery.

The Bureau Centre for the Arts Director Cath Ford said:

We are excited to have this opportunity to work with local partners to provide creative and enriching activities at The Bureau, which will support the health and wellbeing of individuals and communities in the town, and in particular those who have been adversely affected by Covid-19.

The Bureau – Centre for the Arts | Facebook

Blackburn with Darwen’s Executive Member for Wellbeing, Cllr Damian Talbot said:

‘This is a brilliant result for BwD residents. After such a tough year living with the pandemic and all the restrictions surrounding it, this funding will help to bring our communities stay connected  and help maintain their health and wellbeing.’

Myplace manager Rhoda Wilkinson said:

‘After such a difficult 12 months there has never been a greater need to make sure people have the support to connect both with their local nature and their community. We’re really pleased to have the opportunity to work with The Bureau and social prescribing teams in Blackburn with Darwen. Social prescribing is going to be key in supporting our communities to recover from them pandemic.’

Local community partnerships will encourage innovation and improve the evidence base for social prescribing. Projects include football to support mental health, art for dementia, heritage trails and walks, improving green spaces, and singing to improve recovery from COVID-19.

This funding is delivered in a unique partnership between the National Academy for Social Prescribing, Arts Council England, Historic England and Natural England, NHS England and Improvement, Sport England, the Money and Pensions Service, and NHS Charities Together, and is part of the Thriving Communities Programme. The budget was increased to support a high level of strong applicants.

The Fund is part of the Thriving Communities Programme, which works alongside existing local infrastructure agencies in helping local VCFSE groups and organisations to help them build stronger partnerships and connect people to community support. It aims to help these groups share learning, gain new ideas, access funding and develop partnerships across sectors.

To mark Social Prescribing Day this week, the outcome of the £1.8m Thriving Communities Fund included:

Nature activities – OrganicLea in London provides wellbeing activities in green spaces including gardening, forest bathing, nature conservation, yoga, cycling lessons, green volunteering, craft making, and community meals.

Exercise – In Trafford, Friends of Stretford Public Hall will deliver a broad range of activities including online and in-person exercise classes, walking groups, thai boxing, and cycling trips.

Singing – Sunderland Social Prescribing Partnership and Sunderland Culture will be running an extensive programme of high-quality creative social prescribing activities for carers and their families including Singing for Lung Health, a 10 week singing programme for people with COPD and families. Led by a participatory musician to build confidence, sessions will cover breathing techniques, singing familiar harmonies and songs.

Empowerment – Wonder Women in Peterborough will support women to overcome the effects of the COVID-19 period, build confidence, meet with others, grow self-esteem and improve financial literacy.

These local projects will bring together place-based partnerships to improve and increase the range and reach of available social prescribing community activities – with a focus on those people most impacted by COVID-19 and health inequalities.

Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, Chair of the National Academy for Social Prescribing said:

“At its heart the Thriving Communities Fund aims to support our communities to address many issues they face as the result of COVID-19, through innovative social prescribing. I know that the chosen projects will see huge benefits, which will ripple out into wider society. We look forward to working with them, as they unlock the power of social prescribing in their local areas, helping those people who really need it most.”

Natural England’s Chief Executive Marian Spain, said:

“We are delighted to support the Thriving Communities programme, which harnesses the power of nature to support communities and voluntary organisations to help people connect with nature and get access to the outdoors, wherever they live. Research has shown for a long time that access to nature is hugely beneficial to physical and mental wellbeing and people’s real live experiences during the COVID-19 restrictions have shown this to be true.  We look forward to working closely with the National Academy for Social Prescribing to help people everywhere enjoy those benefits as part of a truly green recovery.”

Nicola Gitsham, Head of Social Prescribing, NHS England and Improvement said:

“The pandemic has highlighted the importance of communities coming together to support each other. Social prescribing link workers help people whose emotional and physical wellbeing has been badly affected by social and practical issues, so it’s great to work with NASP on this partnership programme which means that there will be more opportunities to connect people with local activities that can help them live healthier, happier lives.”

Tim Hollingsworth, Chief Executive Officer, Sport England commented:

“Our partnership with the National Academy for Social Prescribing is an important and growing one.  As we emerge from the pandemic it has never been more important to focus on our individual health and wellbeing and the reconnecting of our communities with the activities and sport they most enjoy. The opportunity to engage people in how being active can have a transformational impact on their mental and physical health is a core part of our future strategic ambition and we look forward to our continued collaboration to maximise those links.”



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