What is social prescribing?

Social prescribing is about connecting young people to groups, activities and opportunities within their local community to promote positive health and wellbeing 

This could include:  

  • Joining a youth group or sport club 
  • Finding a new interest or hobby 
  • Volunteering  
  • Information and advice 
  • Accessing other services and tools  

Before we started our service, we spoke to lots of young people about our plans.  

They told us they did not like the term ‘social prescribing’ because it sounded like someone was telling them what they needed rather than listening to them, getting to know them and working together to come up with a wellbeing plan.  

They liked the idea of being connected to activities in their local community and connecting with other people.  

This is why we chose the name Community Connections to better explain how we can help. 

Who are we?

Cardiff and Vale University Health Board have received funding from NHS Health Charities Together to run a social prescribing pilot within Emotional Wellbeing and Mental Health services for children and young people.

This pilot service is for young people aged 11-18 years old who are facing low level challenges to their emotional wellbeing. 

The project is an opportunity to test out whether a social prescribing service is useful for young people referred to Emotional Wellbeing & Mental Health, and whether it has a positive impact on their emotional wellbeing. 

We have named our service Community Connections in response to feedback from young people. 

What is a Community Connector?

A Community Connector is a person who works with young people to help them identify their goals, develop a wellbeing plan, and access opportunities in their community.

A Community Connector: 

  • Prioritises your needs, values, experiences & opinions
  • Focuses on ‘what matters’ to you 
  • Builds a relationship and works together with you to identify your goals  
  • Has a good knowledge of local services, groups and activities that promote wellbeing
  • Checks in regularly with you to ensure you are accessing activities and support that work for you

Here is Holly – our Project Lead – and Pooja and Lauren – our lovely Community Connectors!

How does the service work?

If you are accepted to the service, your Community Connector will contact you for a conversation and to arrange a time to meet.

This could be at school, in your home or out in the community (for example, at a café or park) – wherever you feel comfortable and safe! 

When we meet, we will talk and get to know you, including what’s going on for you at the moment. Some of the things we might talk about could include: 

  • What you like doing 
  • Anything we can help with 
  • How you are feeling 
  • Things you would like to work on – your goals  
  • Any challenges you might be facing 

Based on our conversation, we will work with you to design a wellbeing plan. This will be unique to you. It could include connecting you to groups and activities in your local area. If you’d like, we could come along with you or help you to get there. 

We will work together for up to three months. We will start meeting once a week, and after this will speak with you about how often you would like to meet.   

What do young people think so far?

We spent several weeks visiting youth groups and using an online engagement platform to hear the views of young people.

We were interested in:

  • what they already knew about social prescribing
  • what they thought of the idea
  • how we can run the service to meet the needs of young people

We wrote a report on this in December 2022 (you can download this below).

hand holding a megaphone

How can I get involved?

We will continue listening to young people as we develop our serivce – this is very important for a service centered around young people.

Feedback from young people will help us to provide the best service possible to meet young people’s needs.

The online engagement platform will remain active throughout the project.

We plan on:

  • Asking new questions
  • Linking the platform to our social media to increase the volume of responses

We would love to hear what you think – whether you are accessing our service or just interested in ways to look after your wellbeing!

There are a range of activities that you can get involved with – most of them will only take 2-3 minutes.

We really appreciate any feedback that you are willing to share with us.

Wellbeing journal

We have developed a wellbeing journal.

It has has been designed to be an extension of the time you spend with your Community Connector.

We hope you find it a useful tool for you to reflect on your wellbeing journey.

When we work with you, we will ask if you would rather use a physical copy or a digital copy. You can download the digital copy below.

Though we designed this for young people accessing Community Connections, we encourage anyone who wants to take action to improve their wellbeing to have a look at the information and resources available.

Let us know what you think here.

Frequently Asked Questions

Our service is brand new – so we know you may have some questions about how it works.

We have included some frequently asked questions below.

If you have any more, Contact Us and we will do our best to get back to you with an answer.

General information

Social prescribing is all about connecting young people to groups, activities and opportunities within their local community to promote positive health and wellbeing. 

This could include:

  • Joining a youth group or sport club
  • Finding a new interest or hobby
  • Engaging in volunteering projects
  • Information and advice
  • Accessing other services and tools 

This service in Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan is called Community Connections and is led by Community Connectors.

A Community Connector is a person who works with young people to help them identify their goals, develop a wellbeing plan, and access opportunities in their community. 

A Community Connector:

  • Prioritises your needs, values, experiences and opinions
  • Focuses on ‘what matters’ to you
  • Builds a relationship and works together with you to identify your goals
  • Has a good knowledge of local services, groups and activities that promote   wellbeing
  • Checks back with you to ensure you are accessing activities and support that works for you 

Our service is for 11 to 18-year olds who are experiencing low-level challenges to their emotional wellbeing.   

 

This could include social isolation, low-level anxiety, bullying or lack of self-esteem.  

 

We do not meet with any young person who is experiencing more complex or severe mental health issues.  

A professional that you trust will need to make a request for support to the Emotional Wellbeing and Mental Health Single Point of Access (SPOA). Requests for support need to come via a health or social care professional, such as a GP or school nurse.

You will need to have a conversation with them about what’s going on for you and mention that you would like to try social prescribing. You can then ask for them to make a request for support to the Emotional Wellbeing and Mental Health department. 

 

The request for support will go directly to the SPOA team, they will look at the information provided and help decide what might be most beneficial to you. It is more likely for the request for support to reach Community Connections if social prescribing is mentioned within it!  

 

Please note: We are a very small team and it might not always be possible for us to accept every request for support due to time and staffing constraints.  

 

However, even if we don’t work directly together, there may be other options available to you within Emotional Wellbeing and Mental Health or other services. We will do our best to help you identify and access these options.  

At moment we are only taking requests for support via the Single Point of Access (SPOA). If the young person is struggling with their emotional wellbeing, you can encourage them to talk to their GP or school nurse and they can make a request for support to SPOA. 

Please note: We offer low level emotional wellbeing support and it might not always be possible for us to accept every request for support. We will work together with young people after considering how our service best meets their needs, and our capacity. 

However, even if we don’t work directly together, there may be other options available to you within Emotional Wellbeing and Mental Health or other services.

Accessing the service

When it suits you! You can meet with a Community Connector at a time that works best for you.

This could be during school hours, after school or online. Your Community Connector will contact you to discuss when this might be and will do their best to find a time that suits you.  

 

If you are unable to meet as agreed, please let your Community Connector know as soon as possible. If when you want to meet changes at any point, you can talk to your Community Connector to arrange a new plan together.

Similarly, your Community Connector will always let you know if they can no longer meet with you as planned.

Wherever works best for you! Your Community Connector will discuss with you to find a place where you feel comfortable and safe.

This could be at your school or college, at home or somewhere in the community such as a café or park. 

If you are unable to meet as agreed, please let your Community Connector know as soon as possible If where you want to meet changes at any point, just talk to your Community Connector and together you will arrange a new plan.

Similarly, your Community Connector will always let you know if they can no longer meet with you as planned.

You will meet with a Community Connector over 12 weeks. These meetings will start weekly and could change to biweekly, depending on what works best for you.  

Each meeting will be around 1 hour long.

Yes absolutely! If it would help make you feel comfortable you can invite someone who you feel safe with, such as a parent, guardian or friend.  They can join us for as many sessions as you want. 

Similarly, if you do not want anyone to come with you, that is also fine! As long as you have permission from your legal guardian/parent to meet with us. 

This is a voluntary service. This means that if you do not want to meet with a Community Connector anymore, you do not have to!

If this was the case, we would have a conversation together to see if there’s anything we can change about our meetings to help them benefit you, and so that you feel more comfortable and safe.

However, if you feel you have reached the end of your social prescribing journey, then there is no pressure to stay! You can still continue to be a part of your community and access the same activities/groups without a Community Connector working alongside you.

Our service is about empowering young people to look after their own wellbeing in their local area. We work together with you for 12 weeks to get to know you, work together on a plan that meets your needs then continue to check in with you to make sure everything is going ok for you. Feeling more independent and ready to move on from Community Connections is a positive sign! 

Alternatively, if things have changed for you and you think you need specialist mental health support, we will also have a conversation with you and then our colleagues to see what would work best for you.