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Community enterprise at the heart of new social care thinking in Southwark

Southwark has recently been trying out new ways of doing things in the health and social care world. Locally there are plans to bring health (Clinical Commissioning Group CCG) and social care together to jointly commission services from 2017. The way services are commissioned is also changing which will enable the commissioning of small and micro-services (currently the commissioning model is only suitable for large organisations).

The SLIC (Southwark and Lambeth Integrated Care), and Southwark and Lambeth Health and Wellbeing Boards have made a public commitment to making prevention and early action ‘the new norm’. This includes grant funding micro-enterprises in Lambeth and piloting a project supporting older people through social prescribing in order to reduce isolation.

These changes have huge relevance and potential impact for all the community micro-enterprises supported by the Community Catalysts project. For those who offer activities or interventions that focus on prevention the implications are potentially even greater.

To consolidate its work SLIC recently held an event for professionals, commissioners and other stakeholders which I attended along with two micro enterprises from Southwark. The two providers spoke to people about what they do, the impact they are having and answered questions.

Urban Growth currently work in Lambeth and is soon to be working in Southwark hopefully. It offers horticultural experiences and food growing opportunities that benefit individuals by reducing their isolation and improving mental well-being. Urban Growth is working with the Lambeth GP Food Co-operative which is based at a local GP surgery, delivering food growing activities and the produce is sold and consumed at Kings College hospital to encourage healthy eating and living. I met two growers at an event recently who told me how they really enjoyed their time at Urban Growth and have learnt a lot. One lady had started growing food in her garden and eating healthier at home as a result.

Prescribe Workshops is a newer micro-enterprise which offers opportunities to engage in creative activities (such as making valentine gifts and cards) at health centres. People waiting to be seen at health centres or GPs practices get involved in the activity. It has been documented that people go to see their doctor for social as well as health reasons. Spending time on activities like those organised by Prescribe Workshops can help with health conditions such as anxiety and depression whilst also bringing people together to reduce isolation.

Both of these community micro-enterprises are working alongside GPs. This is becoming increasingly important as CCG’s in Southwark develop the social prescribing model where patients are ‘prescribed’ social interventions to address issues which can impact on health and well-being such as isolation.

All of this activity and innovative thinking should mean that community micro-enterprises help to create a much more varied social and health care marketplace that people can choose from to lead a good life. Watch this space!

Kam Dhenjan
Community Catalysts Southwark

Posted in: Southwark Community enterprise project

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