On Wednesday 23 October, Jo Churchill MP, Under-Secretary of State for Health, visited Charlton Athletic Community Trust (CACT) at The Valley as part of the launch of the National Academy of Social Prescribing.
Jo Churchill, the MP for Bury St Edmunds, and other guests from the Department of Health and NHS England attended Extra Time at The Valley and enjoyed a tour of CACT's Health Improvement department.
This included a visit to CACT's Call Centre, an integral part of its social prescribing work. The Live Well Line operates from 8:30am-7:30pm Monday to Thursday, 8:30am-5:30pm on Friday and 9am-12pm on Saturday.
CACT's passionate and enthusiastic staff team use a combination of online, telephone and face-to-face support to identify issues and empower people by linking them to a whole range of community assets delivered by the Borough's voluntary community sector organisations.
CACT is commissioned by the Royal Borough of Greenwich and the Department of Health & Social Care to deliver Social Prescribing throughout the Borough. CACT is currently implementing the expansion of Social Prescribing to incorporate all GPs in the Borough.
Jo Churchill said:
“I've just had a brilliant morning talking to Pat [Webster, Extra Time participant] and other people who really are part of what social prescribing is about. Here... the community trust reaches out into the community and they had great programmes of smoking cessation, they had fabulous programmes of how to ease pain.
“But, actually, everyone has said that it’s broader than that. It’s about reaching out to you at the time you feel happy to engage with social prescribing.
“We’ve seen people do exercise classes, we’ve seen them doing choirs, a fabulous story about somebody who had COPD and, when they went for their check-up, their lung capacity had really improved; the only difference in their life was that she was part of the choir. That actually shows how we can begin to change people’s lives.”
James Sanderson, Director of Personalised Care at NHS England, said:
“What we find is that at least 1 in 5 GP appointments are taken up by somebody that hasn’t got a medical need. They may have an issue with loneliness, or they may be socially isolated, or they’ve got a housing issue, or relationship issue, and consequently we need to respond to that.
“We need to enable people to connect with communities, to connect to physical exercise, to connect to the natural environment; and what we find is a growing evidence base of the impact of arts and community sports-based activities in developing health and wellbeing.
“It’s absolutely right for the government and NHS to be looking at ways to support people in the community and programmes like CACT’s are fantastic at bringing together communities in a space that they recognise with that anchor institution that the football club brings to actually develop their health and wellbeing.”
Social Prescribing enables GPs, nurses and other primary care professionals to refer their patients to a range of local services. CACT’s scheme is known as Live Well Greenwich and focuses on adults throughout the Royal Borough of Greenwich who have visited their GP on 12 or more occasions throughout the previous year. Live Well Coaches offer up to six 45-minute-face-to-face sessions within a community setting with a trained and experienced local person who is knowledgeable about local services.
CACT’s Head of Health Improvement Deborah Browne and Director of Youth, Health & Inclusion Charlie Macdonald later attended a follow-up launch event at the South Bank Centre with Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Matt Hancock.
The Extra Time Hub CACT delivers is supported by the EFL Trust and Sport England.