We have been laying the foundation for Social Prescribing for some time and involved in the initial national consultations and ongoing as the understanding of the value of Social Prescribing and its application across our communities become better understood.

Communities East first posed Social Prescribing to the CCG in 2015 and more recently in 2019 we were closer to our goal than ever – with programmes such as Community Hive, Health Xchange and the Peterborough Wellbeing Service paving the way; creating a grassroots network of support opportunities in local streets and neighbourhoods, befriending, hobby and interest groups, tea and meet up clubs, sports, arts and leisure spaces to connect and belong to.

In 2019 Peterborough Plus VCSE Consortium received an offer in principle of £1.28m for the county as part of the Life Chances Fund - Social Impact Bond Special Prescribing grant, one of 22 projects chosen nationwide to deliver a social prescribing model. The project would provide holistic support to older people, people with chronic physical illnesses and people with mild to moderate depression, anxiety, and long-term mental health conditions.

The money was the third and final round of funding from the £80 million Life Chances Fund, which opened in July 2016, with the aim of tackling entrenched social issues to help people lead happy and productive lives. The Big Lottery Fund, the largest funder of community activity in the UK, is delivering the Life Chances fund on behalf of the DCMS.

6m funding was to be provided through Social Impact Bonds, meaning external investors will provide up-front funding for projects and get reimbursed by the government when projects meet previously agreed targets.

Despite all efforts, we could not secure the support needed from Statutory bodies to proceed with the Life Chances Fund opportunity, but we wholeheartedly believe in the value of Social Prescribing and are currently exploring funding opportunities for the East.

Watch this space …

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