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New roles to boost health through community

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COPELAND Council has created two new roles to help community groups grow and improve people's health and wellbeing. 

The officers will work with communities and existing groups to help them become stronger, set up new activities, engage with residents or recruit more volunteers. This will dovetail with NHS workers and other professionals who will help people access those services as part of a “social prescription.”

Social prescribing is about linking people up to social or physical activities in their community with a wide range of benefits that could include improved fitness, increased mobility, reduced anxiety, and reduced isolation and loneliness.

The exact nature of the roles will be shaped by the needs of the communities in Copeland.  The two full-time roles have been funded by Copeland Community Fund and other bodies.

Copeland's Strategic Housing and Social Inclusion Manager, Amanda Starr, said: "These important roles are part of our continued commitment to addressing social inclusion in Copeland. They will contribute directly towards improving the health and wellbeing of our residents.

"Often people presenting with health problems could benefit from being steered towards helpful community groups, and that's where social prescribing comes in. For example, someone who is experiencing depression due to loneliness might benefit from a social group. If there isn't such a group in that area, our new team members can identify that gap and help the community set one up. Social prescribing is used instead of or in addition to medicine to help patients.

“We know the communities who thrive are those who make their own decisions and take the lead in delivering third sector services. Residents know best what works best for them and these roles will give communities the skills, tools and opportunities to develop services."

One of the roles, Social Prescribing Community Support Worker,  initially has an emphasis on project management and setting up systems for the project, while the Social Prescribing Development Worker role will focus on supporting and strengthening community groups or helping new ones off the ground.

An initial task will be to map all the existing community services that health providers can 'prescribe’ to.

Copeland Council is hosting the roles on behalf of the Copeland Health and Wellbeing Board, of which it is a member. There is a steering group for the project, including the NHS, Cumbria County Council and Copeland Borough Council. The roles are for a fixed two-year term and the deadline for applications is December 31. Find more details about the roles here: