The Alliance’s, Natasha Beaudin was fortunate to have joined the Canadian Delegation on Social Prescribing on a trip to the UK this November. The trip was organized by the Canadian Institute on Social Prescribing (CISP) who invited social prescribing leaders from across Canada to join. The delegation included implementers and researchers from British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Quebec, Nova Scotia and Ontario.

Our goal was to learn from the National Institute on Social Prescribing (NASP) and the National Health Service (NHS) about their experiences with a national implementation of social prescribing.

We also had some site visits to some shining stars in British Social Prescribing. On November 20th we headed out to see Bromley by Bow Health Centre, located in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets in East London.

The Bromley by Bow Health centre offers a full range of health services. They work in close partnership with the Bromley by Bow Centre, a community charity offering over 40 services and activities and a community research project. Activities include art programs, theatre, gardening, family programming, Newcomer support and a social enterprise café.

On Nov 21 and 22, we met with our colleagues at the National Academy for Social Prescribing (NASP) and the National Health Services (NHS). We heard about the challenges and successes of rolling out a National social Prescribing program, which included the option for General Practitioners (the equivalent of family doctors) to select a paid position in non-clinical roles such as health coach, health promoter or link worker. The NASP was able to provide training and supports to these new roles.

On Friday Nov. 24, we boarded a chartered bus to visit Frome Medical Practice. Frome is a town in eastern Somerset, England with a population of about 28,000. The Frome Medical Practice has been an innovator in bringing clinical and non-clinical programs and services together. Part of this happens through their Health Connections program. People can find out about community programs through a website, a phone line, a talking bench or a talking café. They have about 10% of their residents trained as community connectors, who can help signpost their friends, families and community members to these programs.

Another benefit of this trip was the opportunity for deeper connections with our Canadian colleagues working in various settings across Canada. The crosspollination of different ways of working and ideas definitely lays a foundation for a strong social prescribing movement across Canada.