Transition Supports Social Prescribing

The cold may be creeping in but St Andrews social prescriptions are heating up! Over the past two weeks we have had over 10 new faces join running or cycling sessions. Most of whom were linked to us through the NHS.

What is social prescribing?

Instead of medication, people are now being prescribed the mental and physical health benefits of a range of activities including community gardening, walking groups, dancing, and even surfing. This progressive attitude towards health is on the rise across England and Wales, and is gaining traction in Scotland too.

The main thing is that the process is patient-centered and decision-making is shared. This is a movement we definitely want to get behind. Less medication, more connection.

According to a Royal Society of Edinburgh report in 2021:

  • It is estimated that anywhere between 25% and 50% of GP consultations in Scotland are for non-medical complaints
  • Up to 78% of GPs were prescribing antidepressants even when believing there are better alternative options, but which were not available or had long waiting times

While social prescriptions are only now starting to take off in certain regions, in 2018, Green Health Partnerships were established by NatureScot in Dundee, Lanarkshire, the Highlands, and North Ayrshire. These programmes were amongst the first large scales opportunities for promoting active lifestyles and nature connection as an alternative avenue for bettering public health.

A key role played in the social prescribing process is the community links worker (CLW). Their role is to aid the links between GP practices and community organisations and resources. The Fife Health and Social Care Partnership stated their aim to have a CLW in every GP practice in Fife by 2022. Currently that number sits at just three, all based in West Fife. This is where Transition comes in.

Over recent months we have been building ties with our local GP practices in St Andrews. Patients can be signposted to us for social connection, outdoor activities, and skill development, and an opportunity to give back to their community. Thereby increasing individual and community resilience. These opportunities are also available via the University’s cccupational health services and the Advice and Support Centre (ASC).

Get Involved

The Transition ‘Couch to 5K’ group is the main active lifestyles session available at the moment. The group is running every Monday (meet outside Saints Sport, University Park) at 1pm. The session is gentle, sociable, and open to all abilities. The goal is to support people all the way to the Saturday Park Run: the best way to kick start your weekend.

The running sessions are only the beginning. As links with the community hospital grow, more activities will become available as part of the programme. Plenty to keep an eye out for!

Contact Heather, Transition’s lead on social prescribing activities, for more information.