Name: Jane Soothill
Job title: Social Prescribing Link Worker
Organisation:Voluntary Action South West Surrey
Location: England, Guildford
Please summarise your role responsibilities
I provide a social prescribing service for a PCN with a population of approximately 60,000. It is a mixed rural and urban area with pockets of relative deprivation. Ageing, frailty and mental health are the main issues for my clients. I take referrals from HCPs, adult social care and borough councils and I sit within a social prescribing team that’s hosted by the VCSE sector. I meet clients at home or in the community where we have a conversation about what matters to them. My role is to link them to groups, services and activities that will improve their social, emotional and financial wellbeing.
What is your most significant accomplishment in your role?
I co-wrote a successful bid for support from NHS England’s ‘Building Health Partnerships’, which is supporting our local PCNs and VCSE sector to work more effectively together through a model of social prescribing. It has given link workers, GPs and VCSE sector representatives an opportunity to co-produce events and ideas to aid collaborative working. Local link workers have received coaching from The King’s Fund to support them in their role and give them the skills they need to work collaboratively across sectors.
What is the biggest challenge you are currently facing?
The biggest issue for us at the moment is balancing the growth of our social prescribing service with the needs of individual clients. Social prescribing is most effective when people are given the time and support they need to achieve their goals. Social prescribing shouldn’t become a numbers game.
Do you have any words of wisdom for Social Prescribing Link Workers and/or Social Prescribing Programmes?
Social prescribing is a collaborative venture. Link workers need to be thoroughly linked in to the health, statutory and VCSE sectors themselves if they’re to provide effective links for their clients. The breadth of the role gives link workers the freedom to be innovative and think creatively.
What do you do for fun when not working?
I am a keen amateur musician. I play the flute and I love to sing. Walking in the countryside is always a joy but I’m mostly kept busy with my family and my pets.
How does National Association of Link Workers add value to Social Prescribing and Link Workers?
Every social prescribing service is different and evolves to meet the needs of local populations. However, with an expanding workforce and increasing pressure on link workers to be all things to all people, it’s so important to have organisation that represents the interests of link workers and supports them to be the best that they can. By providing support, training and resources to link workers, NALW can help social prescribing to reach its full potential.