We were delighted to have been included in the Social Esteem Social Prescribing Gallery – Read our story here:
Social Prescribing is vital to help our communities to access important information to improve health and to feel socially included. Never before has this service been so important during these unprecedented times.
Community360 (C360) developed the first social prescribing project in Essex in January 2013 and has been working with partners, through the One Colchester network, across Colchester Borough during the pandemic to provide a proactive response to assist local people. One Colchester is the local strategic partnership of Colchester Borough – a multi-agency network including public, voluntary and commercial sector representatives at the highest levels who come together to determine a local work plan with the ambition to make impactful decisions which will improve the quality of life of residents and be in a position to break down operational barriers.
The whole team at Community360 have wrapped around the My Social PrescriptionTM (MSPTM) programme to address the ongoing social and community issues affecting citizens. Traditionally the organisation accepted referrals direct from residents through the One Colchester Hub, through outreach and through events, as well as by phone and email. A key part of MSPTM is also about accepting referrals from GPs with whom they work with across 17 surgeries in the Borough.
The service has had to adapt from client contact and face to face meetings to offering the service by phone. In the period from 1st April to 30th June over 1700 referrals were taken. The charity worked with One Colchester to co-design and develop the Community Hub to offer food, prescription pick-ups, community transport and welfare support. Firstsite art gallery, a member of One Colchester, kindly offered space to serve as a distribution Hub. C360 have provided their original service but extended it to contact Category A residents who are shielding, this has been across the whole of C360, working with volunteers and staff to make over 3500 calls. They have worked in partnership with GP Care Advisors to proactively contact patients who may be self-isolating and help them access the things they need. They have also dealt with and supported residents offering welfare calls to 350 residents.
As an example, one GP surgery has given the following testimonial:
Louise Goodwin, Practice Manager said: “I wanted to thank both you and Community360 for the help that you have provided to East Hill Surgery during the Covid-19 Pandemic. The assistance given to my 2 volunteers who came to the surgery everyday Monday to Friday to contact all 3,500 over 65-year-old patients, along with the vulnerable and shielding patients to discuss their needs was fantastic. Any referrals we then made to Community360 for additional help was always dealt with quickly and efficiently with an update being received back at the surgery in a very timely manner. It certainly showed how we could all work together as a team when it was most needed. I have received several messages from this cohort of patients; they all gave their heartfelt thanks for this help during this unprecedented time.”
Volunteers from Community360 have been offering to do essential tasks for the most vulnerable people in Colchester’s community. They are supporting with a wide range of tasks – from transporting patients’ home from hospital, phoning people who are on their own for a chat to collecting and delivering essential medicines, food and delivering Welfare Packs. To date C360 have delivered 250 welfare packs, collected/delivered over 800 prescriptions; made over 2100 welfare calls and nearly 600 befriending calls. They have also received and dealt with over 1700 social prescribing referrals.
Community360 has been receiving some heartfelt thank you messages from residents who are receiving support from volunteers, including one from a resident who was advised to self-isolate for 3 months. They are a single parent and struggled for the first couple of weeks of shut down without any support network. She spoke to Community360 and had a food package delivered the same day and their prescription the day after.
She said: “The help and prompt response was overwhelming it reduced me to tears for the relief that I finally had help and didn’t have to endure the shops anymore, what compassionate people you are. I thank you all from the bottom of my heart for your help and support in such horrible times. You’re all doing an amazing job.”