Today, the National Association of Voluntary and Community Action (NAVCA), the National Academy of Social Prescribing (NASP) and London 2012 legacy funder Spirit of 2012 have together launched a project to make social prescribing easier and more effective.

Social prescribing uses non-medical interventions to improve health and wellbeing for people who have one or more health conditions, need support with their mental health, are lonely or isolated and/or have complex social needs which affect their wellbeing.

Health professionals and other agencies connect people to practical, emotional and social support in their community, such as volunteering, arts activities, group learning, gardening, befriending, cookery, healthy eating advice and a range of sports and activity.

But how do NHS link workers − those who make the referrals, know which schemes and activities are on offer, let alone which ones will be best for their patients? And how can voluntary and community organisations ensure their programmes deliver effective outcomes for participants?

Through its membership of local voluntary and community infrastructure organisations, and existing partnerships, NAVCA will scope current activities and draw on the expertise, insights and experiences of a range of providers, social prescribers and health organisations.

Spirit of 2012 has awarded NAVCA a grant of £35,000 to fund a Health and Wellbeing Manager who will explore and seek to understand the current social prescribing landscape and develop a suite of quality assurance measures, guidelines, service directories and learning materials for social prescribing.

Once complete, the quality framework will support NHS link workers with referrals, helping them to choose the most appropriate schemes for their patients.

Launching the project, Maddy Desforges, CEO, National Association of Voluntary and Community Action said: “Our members are directly involved in social prescribing as coordinators of the local schemes and providers of capacity building and community development functions that are essential to create and sustain the thriving and vibrant communities that social prescribing is dependent on.”

Ruth Hollis, CEO of Spirit of 2012 said:

“Participation, connection and social mixing are all shown to improve people’s wellbeing, and social prescribing in the community is how we can get people to the activities. We have learned a great deal about what works when building partnerships across health and voluntary sectors, creating supported referral pathways, and how taking a person-centred approach can make such a difference, leading to better physical and mental health outcomes.

“We are delighted to be working in partnership with NAVCA and NASP to really understand what best practice looks like, how to achieve it, and create a framework that will benefit future social prescribing practice in England.”


James Sanderson, Chief Executive of NASP, said:

“At the core of social prescribing is connection and community. Good health comes from a broad range of factors beyond medical interventions, and local and community groups are instrumental in supporting those who need them the most.

“That’s why we’re delighted to be working with NAVCA and Spirit of 2012 to identify priorities and develop resources that will help connect link workers and local organisations. By supporting collaborative working, we can make sure people can get the most effective support, based on what matters to them.”

Recruitment for a Health and Wellbeing Manager to lead the project is now underway. For full details, visit the NAVCA website: