Bogside and Brandywell Health Forum’s SPRING receives £1.5 million funding

The National Lottery Community Fund has today announced over £1.5 million of funding to expand SPRING Social Prescribing, an innovative health project that is easing pressure on GPs, reducing visits to Emergency Departments and improving the wellbeing of patients across Northern Ireland and Scotland.

SPRING Social Prescribing first received National Lottery funding in 2018 and has helped over 3,000 people, by allowing health professionals to refer patients to community-led services to help meet their non-medical needs.

The project is led by Bogside and Brandywell Health Forum in Derry and involves 19 partner organisations who are members of the Healthy Living Centre (HLC) Alliance in Northern Ireland and the Scottish Communities for Health & Wellbeing (SCHW).

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Ryan Tracey, Programme Manager for SPRING Social Prescribing said, “We are absolutely delighted to receive this additional National Lottery funding, to support the wellbeing of more people and further embed Social Prescribing as the norm for health professionals and policy makers in Northern Ireland and Scotland.

Ciara McElhinney and Bronagh Cooper, Social Prescribers at Bogside and Brandywell Health Forum, pictured with Julie Witherow (centre) who has received support through SPRING Social Prescribing. This project has received an additional £1.5 million of funding from The National Lottery Community Fund to expand, support the wellbeing of more people and further embed Social Prescribing as the norm for health professionals and policy makers in Northern Ireland and Scotland.

“Patients are referred to SPRING Social Prescribing with a range of issues including mental health problems or chronic pain, and many repeatedly attend their GP or ED, but have nowhere else to turn. Our ‘Social Prescriber’ partners work with each individual to create a plan to meet their needs through community activities such as support groups, exercise classes, counselling or holistic therapies.”

Derry GP, Dr Paul Molloy, has seen first-hand the benefits of the project over the last few years.

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Dr Molloy said, “The social prescribing scheme has been a tremendous success and shows that taking a holistic approach to someone’s health is just as important as addressing physical illness.

“The benefits to physical and mental health have been reflected in positive feedback from patients and reduced levels of attendances to health services.”

John Cassidy, Chair of Scottish Communities for Health and Wellbeing, an umbrella group of social prescribing partners said, “It is important to think of social prescribing as more than simply a process of referral or as a method of signposting individuals to community provision. It involves building relationships, taking a holistic approach and engaging individuals at the heart of the process.

“We are delighted to see SPRING Social Prescribing Project being funded for a further two years.”

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Paul Sweeney, Chair of The National Lottery Community Fund’s Northern Ireland Committee and member of The Fund’s UK-wide Board said, “Thanks to National Lottery players the SPRING Social Prescribing project has been able to make meaningful health improvements to people across Northern Ireland and Scotland.

“Bogside and Brandywell Health Forum and partners are providing a valuable connection between the health service and the community, building on the strengths that already exist, to improve peoples’ lives I am looking forward to seeing the difference the new funding will make.”

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