For Mental Health Awareness Week ‘Anxiety’ 2023, we want to reflect on our work here at the Trust and how this week, and every week, everything we do supports our North and West Bristol communities with anxiety, as well as with the many broader aspects of mental health.
Our flagship Social Prescribing team is one of the best in the region. From the early pioneering days of this type of work, when very few organisations offered this approach, we were at the forefront of fostering partnerships with every GP practice in North and West Bristol to place our Link Workers in each surgery to offer patients one-to-one and wellbeing support.
We employ 17 Link Workers for adults and 6 for children, working across fifteen GP partnerships and their Primary Care Networks. Other organisations could support people one-one-as our Link Workers do. But the difference we bring as a community organisation is that we support the creation of a community ecosystem that supports the resilience of people and communities long-term.
Without this ecosystem we would be like a travel agent without destinations to offer! It also allows a dynamic approach whereby the Link Workers hear from participants themselves about what can best support them, and we respond in an agile way. Both our Bereavement and Chronic Pain groups were started this way.
Put simply, Social Prescribing is an early intervention and a holistic approach to support people’s mental health before it progresses to a point where medical treatment is necessary. GPs refer patients to our Link Workers who will offer support to reconnect people with the things that bring them joy and to improve their outlook. We help people to join in with activities and keep them connected with others for companionship; also, help them set up activity groups themselves where there is a desire for new ones. Our Link Workers support participants to take the steering wheel of their own care by helping to work out what matters to each person, not what is the matter with them.
Our partnerships with other community organisations across the City are vital for us to be able to develop new opportunities and programmes, as well as routes into counselling and therapies. Our team for adults has strong partnerships with Second Step, Changes Bristol, Network Counselling and Maybe Southwest, as well as the National Centre for Integrative Medicine, University of Bristol, Richmond Fellowship, Bristol Beacon, Adult Social Care, Marmalade Trust, and Wesport.
Our team for children works closely with our own Youth & Play team at The Ranch, Empire Fighting Chance, Digilocal, Free Your Instinct, Off The Record, Kids Matter, Winston’s Wish, WECIL and Send And You.
Our work is directly commissioned by GP Primary Care Networks with funds from the NHS via the local Integrated Care Board. While there are now other providers of Social Prescribing services for adults in the City, we offer the only children’s service in Bristol. Both our services are highly regarded and go from strength to strength.
This week alone our Link Workers have supported 150 adults on a one-to-one basis and have helped to facilitate access to resources in our community such as arts, walking, creative writing, and bereavement support. We are excited about resuming our cold-water swimming sessions with our partners at Henleaze Lake for the summer. Week in week out, our children’s team along with their partner organisations offer activities, and last year ran more than 230 sessions; our in-house developed highlight is Resilience Lab where we use creativity and play to help children explore emotions to build the skills to cope with stress, reach out to others, discover strengths, and feel more confident when life gets tough.
Our Social Prescribing teams link in with all our other Trust teams to create a 360-degree experience for participants who are offered Wellbeing Coach support for their physical health, in turn improving their mental health, as well as opportunities to connect with groups set up by our Community Development, Neighbours Connect, Community Care, and Employment & Training teams. A participant may find themselves spending time with each team and ultimately finding employment or a volunteer position within the Trust.
To celebrate this week, we’d like to thank all our partners, groups, organisations, residents, volunteers, staff, and everyone who works alongside us to deliver our high calibre services to support anxiety and a wide range of mental health elements.
Below: What some of our participants say about our service.
Read our full Impact Report HERE
Visit our website for more info about our teams and how to make a donation to our children’s services HERE