The Government has given the National Academy for Social Prescribing (NASP) £5m in funding to support people’s health and wellbeing in light of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Working alongside NHS England, Sport England, Arts Council England and more, the Academy, which is chaired by former RCGP chair Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, will promote a range of creative activities, including opera singing and cooking.
The Government said the funding would help ‘connect people to initiatives in their local communities to improve their mental health and wellbeing’, and encourage access to green spaces and physical environments.
Alongside Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, the English National Opera has devised an integrated six-week online pilot programme of singing and breathing, with the aim of enhancing the recovery of those who had Covid-19.
The act of singing is said to be a risk factor for the spread of the virus, but is encouraged in those who have recovered.
Meanwhile, organisations including Newcastle United Foundation’s ‘Be a Game Changer’ programme and the Southbank Centre will be supporting people with specific conditions such as dementia, and other areas of focus include growing food; being alongside wildlife; beekeeping and music workshops.
The Money and Pensions Service and Mental Health UK have created a Money Support Pack to offer support on financial matters such as debt.
Health minister Jo Chuchill welcomed the approach as allowing the Government to ‘build on the merits of social prescribing’. Praising the role of primary care teams, she added: ’GPs and social prescribing link workers have been working incredibly hard to support their patients through this challenging time. As we begin to support the move out of lockdown, social prescribing will be key to tackling health inequalities and helping people recover and rebuild their lives.’
This follows NHS England’s aspirations to recruit an ‘army’ of an additional 500 social prescribing link workers whilst targeting the loneliness and isolation brought by Covid-19; amid stark warnings that a ‘surge’ in mental health conditions is on its way.