A health and wellbeing initiative which is achieving better outcomes for people with anxiety, loneliness and other needs, has now be introduced across West Suffolk.
The LifeLink social prescribing project was initially piloted in Haverhill in 2017 following a bid by St Edmundsbury Borough Council (now West Suffolk Council) for Government funds. In Haverhill the scheme has already supported more than 350 people, connecting them to local community groups and social activities – and leading to a reduction in their GP visits as a result.
LifeLink will now be extended in and around Bury St Edmunds, Sudbury, Newmarket, Woolpit, Brandon, Mildenhall and Lakenheath thanks to the funding from West Suffolk Council, Primary Care Networks and the NHS West Suffolk Clinical Commissioning Group.
A team of 10 LifeLink co-ordinators employed at West Suffolk Council will work across individual areas to support participants on a one-to-one basis, connecting them to social activities, clubs, groups and local services.
Benefits include meeting new people and developing friendships, feeling healthier and fitter, learning new skills and developing opportunities for volunteering and employment.
Cabinet Member for Families and Communities at West Suffolk Council, Robert Everitt, said: “LifeLink has been a life changer for some of the people that have used the service. It has given people more confidence, lifted their sense of wellbeing, reduced their feelings of loneliness and isolation and made them feel more a part of their community. Alongside this it has increased opportunities in employment, volunteering, training and education – and that can lead to a reduced demand on health services, social care and medication. The evidence shows that for the vast majority of people it has had significant benefit to their lives and I’m delighted that we have invested to deliver similar social prescribing projects across the rest of West Suffolk.”
Lois Wreathall, Deputy Director of Primary Care, NHS West Suffolk Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “It is great to have a complete network of social prescribers in West Suffolk providing an effective way of supporting people to live happy and healthy lives.
“The success of this project shows how partnership working between local organisations can result in meaningful outcomes that make a positive difference.”
To find out more about LifeLink and the individual area coordinators, visit www.westsuffolk.gov.uk/community/lifelink
Pictured above are Warren Smyth, Chief Executive of Abbeycroft Leisure; Rachael Seago, Senior Primary Care Manager, NHS West Suffolk Clinical Commissioning Group; and Robert Everitt, Cabinet Member for Families and Communities at West Suffolk Council with members of the LifeLink team.