A new service will help Copeland residents improve their health and wellbeing by connecting them with a range of groups, activities and services.
Copeland Council’s new Social Prescribing team, Emma Baughan and Jan Fotheringham, will create and maintain a directory of organisations who could support people in a more holistic way.
Emma said: “Often people with health problems can get real benefits from connecting with groups or activities in their communities – this is social prescribing.
“For example, sometimes depression, if it’s exacerbated by loneliness, can be helped considerably by contact with a social group. Or someone with chronic pain might be able to manage it better if they have a weekly hobby group to aim towards attending. Different things will help different people to different degrees, which is why we are building such a large directory of groups and services.”
The scheme can help anyone over 18, and the support on offer includes:
• Help with using digital technology
• Advice on managing finances
• Housing and homelessness
• Befriending or support groups
• Social and creative activities
• Benefits advice
• Help with issues like mild depression and anxiety
• Training and volunteering opportunities
• Activities around health and keeping physically active
If the team identifies that a particular type of group is needed, but doesn’t yet exist, they can support the community in setting one up.
Mike Starkie, Mayor of Copeland, said: “This is a great scheme, connecting people with the community activities that can really support and empower people.
“There is a significant gap between the haves and the have nots in Copeland and this, and the rest of our social inclusion programme, of which this is a part, is about helping people to level up.”
As part of the same scheme, the NHS has also funded two staff, who will help patients access the service. Other health professionals can also refer patients to the service.
As well as recording all the existing groups who could help people, Emma and Jan will work with them to help them grow, set up new activities, engage with residents or recruit more volunteers.
The two two-year full-time roles have been funded by Copeland Borough Council and Copeland Community Fund.
Copeland Council is hosting the roles on behalf of the Copeland Health and Wellbeing Forum, of which it is a member. There is a steering group for the project, including the NHS, Cumbria County Council and Copeland Borough Council.