The potential of community-based volunteering in supporting NHS social prescribing
- Principal Investigator: Kamal Mahtani
- 1 April 2020 to 31 March 2021
- Project No: 483
- Funding round: FR19
Social prescribing refers to the use of ‘community assets’ (e.g. local organisations, charities, events, groups) to address the non-medical challenges (e.g. isolation, housing problems) that can affect how people feel physically and psychologically. Link workers are being employed across GP surgeries to facilitate the delivery of social prescribing within primary care. They spend time talking to patients, finding out a) what really matters to an individual and b) their personal health and well-being goals. They then help patients to develop an action plan, drawing on local assets to meet these goals.
Volunteering forms part of social prescribing activities; through volunteering, people are more connected to their community and/or can feel that their life has meaning. However, little research has explored the use of volunteering to help patients in primary care with non-medical challenges as part of social prescribing.
Our research aims to understand the role of volunteering in community settings, as part of social prescribing, to promote well-being and to tackle ill-health. It will include a series of interviews with 20 people involved in volunteering. We will also undertake a systematic review of existing literature on this topic. These two sets of data will be brought together and presented at an end of study workshop. The workshop will be attended by approximately 30 key stakeholders (volunteers, members of the public, voluntary organisations, social prescribing colleagues, general practitioners, policy makers).
They will help us to a) contextualise our findings and ensure they are disseminated in an accessible and expedient manner for end users, and b) prioritise areas for future research on this topic of volunteering and its role in social prescribing as part of primary care.
Stephanie Tierney, Geoff Wong, Amadea Turk
Amount awarded: £22 841.46