A scheme aimed at increasing innovation in social prescribing has been launched to meet an expected increase in demand.
The Accelerating Innovation programme, which is being run in partnership between the National Academy for Social Prescribing, the Royal Voluntary Service, NHS England and NHS Improvement, also hopes to improve the availability of social prescribing services.
Organisers say demand for social prescribing services is expected to increase because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Social prescribing involves NHS patients being referred to local voluntary and community services to improve their quality of life, health and wellbeing and reduce the likelihood they might need access to NHS services in future.
This could include participation in activities such as art classes, gardening, cooking or sport.
The new scheme, which it is hoped will bring together national organisations to share resources, skills and experiences between themselves and local groups, is particularly aimed at those working in financial wellbeing, the arts, nature and physical activity.
The project will include a community of practice, which will share and support best practice in order to increase the availability of social prescribing activities.
The scheme will also provide advice and training to support organisations in developing innovative social prescribing services.
Catherine Johnstone, chief executive of the RVS, said: “Many national voluntary organisations have much of what they need to deliver wonderful social prescribing offers.
“This programme enables them to learn from each other, put real focus on their innovation and, with expert support, plug any gaps that are holding them back.”
Organisations that are interested in joining a community of practice can register their interest by 3 October here.