Social Prescribing

Social prescribing is a hot topic in health care right now, particularly in the UK. Essentially, social prescribing enables health professionals (GPs, nurses, etc) to refer people to activities and services instead of, or alongside, medication. As this video puts it, “social prescribing is the kind of help that doesn’t come in a tube or bottle.”

Examples of activities that can be prescribed are numerous – e.g. gardening, walking, singing, painting – and are only limited by the existence of relevant groups and organisations that support such activities in the local area (and of course their capacity to do so).

Increasingly, social prescribing is being seen as the solution to a variety of problems.  It is seen as one of the 10 high impact areas for the NHS, and a UK government report on loneliness positions social prescribing as a key driver for bringing people together in connected communities, and proposes to have a social prescribing service in every Primary Care Network in UK by 2023.

Funding for social prescribing services, and models for delivering them, differ across the country, but they are usually commissioned by the local Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG). Therefore, being aware of how health care is commissioned in your area and making links with the local CCG is a good first step to seeing how your organisation might become involved in social prescribing services. Community radio stations are ideally placed to help improve health & wellbeing, and social prescribing may provide the key that unlocks the funding to support this work.

It should be acknowledged that the term ‘social prescribing’ is an imperfect one – with many people unhappy that the term medicalises the kinds of support provided by the voluntary sector; others saying that this is nothing new. However, when framed in terms of the ‘social determinants of health’, and if this reshaping of health care leverages funding for the voluntary sector to do the work it does, then we feel that the pros of the term outweigh the cons.

In short, we feel social prescribing offers great potential for community radio stations.

See more resources and opportunities to connect with others at the Social Prescribing Network:


[1] ‘General Practice Forward View’, NHS England, April 2016.

[1] ‘A connected society: A strategy for tackling loneliness – laying the foundations for change’, DCMS, October 2018.

[1] Making sense of social prescribing’, University of Westminster, 2017