A research team from Edge Hill, funded by the UK’s largest children’s charity Barnardo’s, will evaluate Cumbria LINK which supports 5-19-year-olds with their emotional health and wellbeing.
Through the social prescribing service children can access community-based activities on a one-to-one or group basis including those run by Barnardo’s, usually following a GP referral.
Children can gain support on a variety of issues including confidence and low self-esteem, social isolation, stress and anxiety, school-related concerns and family relationships.
Dr Michelle Howarth, lead investigator and senior engagement fellow in Edge Hill’s Faculty of Health, Social Care and Medicine (FoHSCM), said:
“We are all becoming more aware of the really positive impact social prescribing can have on the health and wellbeing of those who are referred.
“Now, through this partnership with Barnardo’s, we will be exploring the impact, outcomes and economic benefits for children and families as well as the impact on wider health and social care systems.”
Social prescribing signposts people of all ages to local and non-clinical community-based support which can help them proactively look after their own physical and mental health.
This could be anything from gardening groups, social clubs or financial support to access services such as local gyms or swimming pools.
The services recommended depend on the specific needs of the individual, as identified in a primary care setting. It also helps to reduce the demand on primary and secondary care through effective early intervention.
Barnardo’s is playing a key role in delivering social prescribing throughout England, having reached more than 400 children and young people in the last two years.
The charity hopes the three-year learning partnership with Edge Hill University will provide evidence of the service’s positive impact, as well as any key learnings, to encourage further rollout of social prescribing throughout the country and across other authorities and organisations.
Rukshana Kapasi, Director of Health for Barnardo’s, said:
“We are pleased to be working with Edge Hill University, as our learning partner, to provide tangible insights and evidence that demonstrates the positive impact our social prescribing service is making for children and young people in our communities.
“In the midst of the cost-of-living crisis, we know that so many young people and their families are struggling with poor mental health and help is needed more so than ever.
“We hope the outcome of this learning partnership will demonstrate the potential of social prescribing for children and young people and highlight the significant and positive impact that we know early intervention can achieve.”
The Edge Hill team is led by Dr Howarth working alongside Professor Jacqueline Leigh in FoHSCM and Dr Julie Feather and Professor Axel Kaehne in the Unit for Evaluation and Policy Analysis.
The research team has a wealth of field experience and Dr Howarth has a strong track record of evaluating social prescribing schemes and supporting the development of the Government’s national Social Prescribing Outcomes Framework.
December 21, 2022