Social Prescribing supports people, via support from link workers, to discover new opportunities, create new connections and build on their strengths to improve their health and wellbeing. These connections could be to an advice or counselling service or to sociable sports, creative or other community-based activity. It may see a person accessing volunteering opportunities or literacy support; whatever it takes to give them a strong foundation, positive wellbeing and safe, reliable relationships.

In Greater Manchester there is a growing Social Prescribing workforce funded through NHS England and co-ordinated through Primary Care Networks (PCNs) and Voluntary Community Service (VCSE) partnerships.  This was, until recently, focussed almost exclusively on the adult population.

Working in partnership with Street Games and the Association of Colleges, GMCA and GM Health and Social Care Partnership has created a new approach that brings college staff, primary care networks voluntary and community organisations together to support the mental health needs of young people. College pastoral staff are training to become College Social Prescribing Champions able to undertake a link role and to identify when and how to refer on to activity or other support services. Each college has a commissioning pot of £5k which can be used by pastoral staff and students to co-commission activity with local providers, either on site or in local venues. Curious Minds is supporting colleges to work with the cultural sector, who will also receive training in social prescribing and mental health awareness.

We are also working with i-THRIVE and the University of Manchester to evaluate how the project impacts on the mental health and wellbeing of college students in Greater Manchester and to analyse whether the project provokes system change in the localities where it is operating.

The project will run until June 2022. You can find out more by emailing Julie.McCarthy@Greatermanchester-ca.gov.uk