Social prescribing courses
Social prescribing courses
Since opening in October 2017, Walthamstow Wetlands, has been working in partnership with both the Waltham Forest Social Prescribing team and the Adult Learning Service (WFALS) including local GP surgeries and medical centres. The collaboration has resulted in Walthamstow Wetlands hosting a series of workshops taking a more holistic approach to people’s health and wellbeing in the local community.
Taking place within a 211 hectares nature reserve with 10 beautiful reservoirs, the workshops have given local residents an opportunity to access the great outdoors at London’s largest urban wetlands as well as connect with other individuals through the shared experience of learning and participation in the events. Providing event facilities in the locally-listed Engine House and much-needed open space in a densely populated city area, Walthamstow Wetlands has welcomed over 30 residents, experiencing low mood, depression, anxiety or loneliness, to the site to learn a new skill delivered by professional and experienced tutors from the Adult Learning Service.
As part of a holistic approach to help improve the health, wellbeing and social welfare of attendees, the workshops have encouraged residents – many of which have never visited the Wetlands – to work together collaboratively on projects and explore the nature and wildlife on their very doorstep. Workshops so far have included two arts & crafts courses, devised and delivered by the Adult Learning Service in Waltham Forest, where over a six week period residents explored printmaking and created paintings and drawings inspired by their surroundings. The courses provided the time and space to learn a new craft, experiment with new techniques and talk to others whilst enjoying refreshments in the break-out area. Upcoming workshops will include clay workshops as well as creative writing with Writerz and Scriberz with the aim of creating a wonderful book of poems to display inside the Engine House for visitors to enjoy.
Since the Wetlands’ opening, a variety of people from different backgrounds, age groups and with a common interest, have taken part in the Social Prescribing workshops. Feedback for the events has been overwhelmingly positive with many attendees citing that the workshops have helped them feel more motivated and confident. So far the workshops have proved an effective way of helping residents access the Wetlands and get involved with the site in a safe and supported environment.
A number of residents have progressed onto a range of courses within the Waltham Forest Adult Learning Service including ESOL, gardening, a range of courses at other heritage sites and libraries as well as accredited courses. In addition two learners have participated in the Annual Craft fair at the Town Hall, selling a variety of goods that they created.
Attendee, “I didn’t want to come out of the house. I was withdrawn. I had no hope. I thought that was the end of my life. The GP started to encourage me to do an activity and then join a group.” How do you feel now? “I feel motivated, confident and inspired and I feel rewarded and honoured. I’m happy to share my experience with others in what I have achieved.”
Good access to a Social Prescriber who can connect residents to organisations and services in the borough – such as adult learning classes and support groups – can be of huge benefit to participants by involving them actively in their own care and improving their wellbeing in the long-term. NHS England cited emerging evidence that 'community services such as exercise or art classes, history groups and even ballroom dancing can boost health and wellbeing more than dishing out pills or other treatments'. Under new NHS England plans, resourcing to support Social Prescribing activities is set to rise. As part of its ongoing work with local community groups, Walthamstow Wetlands will continue to collaborate with the Social Prescribing Service in Waltham Forest and in doing so, play a pivotal part in the area’s local support network aimed at helping residents find suitable community activities to improve their health and wellbeing.