I am a social prescriber in Tower Hamlets and I love my job because, as social prescribers, we get to be witnesses to the resilience and courage of ordinary people fighting invisible battles on a daily basis. It is the highest honour to be trusted with people’s stories and I hope that I never take that for granted.
People are referred to me by their doctors, other GP surgery staff or can self-refer, if they have non-medical problems that are impacting their health, such as feelings of isolation, concerns about employment or wanting to find affordable exercise opportunities.
It is my job to connect people to services within the community and improve their knowledge of the sources of support available to them. I like to think of social prescribers as bridges that enable people to obtain the knowledge they need to improve the quality of their life. Something that can be returned to when people need an extra helping hand that guides rather than leads.
Each day is different, but a social prescriber’s day generally rotates around appointments with people we are supporting (either face to face or in person), meeting with other social prescribers on a fortnightly basis and organising networking meetings. One of the most fundamental parts of our role is knowing what’s out there and recognising any unmet needs within the community. We do this by reaching out to local organisations, inviting them to team meetings and networking events, where we find out more about what they can offer. Another part of our role is promoting the service, so attending surgery meetings and reminding potential referrers what we can support with.
It’s hard for me to put into words just how much passion I have for the kind of work my colleagues and I do. Each day and case varies in terms of the workload and emotional support put in place, but often people we work with report the immense value in feeling heard and supported and that they look forward to their sessions with us. It is a really good reminder that what we do is crucial to the health and wellbeing of our communities.
One thing I’ve learnt from this job is the fundamental importance of community groups, activities and services for the overall health of the people in our areas. Social prescribers would be nowhere without the voluntary/charity/health and wellbeing sector. We can help make improvements in people’s lives because there are places that can provide that extra level of support and compassion. I think these services should be celebrated every day.