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Guidance for professionals in Gloucestershire working with young people with mental health or emotional wellbeing concerns

Social Prescribing



Social prescribing is a key component of Universal Personalised Care.

Social prescribing is a way for local agencies to refer people to a link worker. Link workers give people time, focusing on ‘what matters to me’ and taking a holistic approach to people’s health and wellbeing. They connect people to community groups and statutory services for practical and emotional support.

Link workers also support existing community groups to be accessible and sustainable, and help people to start new groups, working collaboratively with all local partners.

Social prescribing works for a wide range of people, including people:

  • With one or more long-term conditions
  • Who need support with their mental health
  • Who are lonely or isolated
  • Who have complex social needs which affect their wellbeing.

When social prescribing works well, people can be easily referred to link workers from a wide range of local agencies, including general practice, pharmacies, multi-disciplinary teams, hospital discharge teams, allied health professionals, fire service, police, job centres, social care services, housing associations and voluntary, community and social enterprise (VCSE) organisations. Self-referral is also encouraged.

A standard model of social prescribing has been developed in partnership with stakeholders, which shows the key elements that need to be in place for effective social prescribing;


Social prescribing complements other approaches, such as active signposting.  This is a ‘light touch’ approach where existing staff in local agencies provide information to signpost people to services, using local knowledge and resource directories. Active signposting works best for people who are confident and skilled enough to find their own way to services after a brief intervention.


Social Prescribing Link Workers

In the Long Term Plan NHS England committed to building the infrastructure for social prescribing in primary care:

  • There will be 1,000 new social prescribing link workers in place by 2020/21, with significantly more after that, so that
  • At least 900,000 people will be referred to social prescribing by 2023/24.

This is part of the drive to Universal Personalised Care that will see at least 2.5 million people benefiting from personalised care by 23/24.

Social prescribing link workers are becoming an integral part of the multi-disciplinary teams in primary care networks (PCNs). They are part of the additional roles in the five year framework for GP contract reform and are included in the Network Direct Enhanced Service Contract for 2020/21.

This is the biggest investment in social prescribing by any national health system, and legitimises community-based activities and support alongside medical treatment as part of personalised care.


Case Studies



There is emerging evidence that social prescribing can lead to a range of positive health and wellbeing outcomes for people, such as improved quality of life and emotional wellbeing.

Though there is a need for more robust and systematic evidence on the effectiveness of social prescribing, social prescribing schemes may lead to a reduction in the use of NHS services, including GP attendance. 59% of GPs think social prescribing can help reduce their workload.



Arts on Prescription in Gloucestershire  

Cinderford Artspace, Art Shape and The Music Works accept referrals for arts on prescription. The sessions are available to children and young people with long term health conditions. All programmes offer 1:1 or small group sessions and are bespoke to the young person’s likes and wants. 

Cinderford Artspace offers circus & aerial skills, and pottery.

Art Shape provides a range of arts & creative activities including visual arts, animation, and photography.

The Music Works facilitate song-writing, learning an instrument, singing, rapping, music tech & developing computer game soundtracks. 

The outcomes and targets of arts on prescription are to:

  • Increase confidence and emotional resilience

  • Increase social connection with other young people with long term health conditions

  • Encourage self-management of their health condition through creative activities and whilst taking part in creative and physically active workshops.


Referral Form - Arts on Prescription (Word doc)

Referral Form - Arts on Prescription (PDF)



Tagged under: social prescribing, case studies, universal personalised care, link workers, primary care networks, covid-19, NHS, public health England, PHE