My Best Life in Barnsley

We’ve been awarded £821,000 by NHS Barnsley Clinical Commissioning Group to provide social prescribing in Barnsley over the next three years.

It is estimated around a fifth of visits to a GP are linked to problems in people’s lives such as loneliness, debt, housing issues, work, relationships and unemployment.

The new scheme will help support people who go to see their GP often with social, emotional or practical needs, where a prescription for medication often doesn’t help.

The scheme, called My Best Life, will start from April 2017 and will be similar to our Doncaster Social Prescribing scheme which continues to go from strength-to-strength.

GPs will be able to put people who have non-medical need in touch with someone from My Best Life team who will talk to them and find out what help or support they need; from money worries and relationship difficulties, to counselling and social groups to tackle loneliness and isolation.

The type of support will vary widely depending on the individual’s needs – from putting people in touch with the local fishing club to getting advice on managing debt.

The two major benefits for people referred to the My Best Life service will be an improvement in their health, wellbeing and quality of life and a reduction in social isolation, exclusion and loneliness. With a special focus on improving mental health and wellbeing, the scheme hopes to enable people to manage their own health, improve social networks and develop their self-confidence.

Dr Nick Balac, local GP and chair of NHS Barnsley Clinical Commissioning Group said: “Good health and wellbeing is about much more than doctors and medicines. Helping people overcome loneliness and debt for example can have a huge impact on your physical and mental health.

“This scheme will create a different type of conversation when you see your GP or nurse that allows both medical and social elements to be taken into account. If you’re just treating medical issue then you’re often not getting to the root of the problem.”

“The main benefits of this type of service are that it creates a connection between family doctors and nurses and the rest of the wellbeing community services and groups across the town. It adds to the range of support and advice we can offer as a GP.

“We know from other areas that this type of support has the potential to reduce admissions to hospital and reduce the number of GP visits people need to make, but most importantly, to improve the health and wellbeing of the participants.

“There are some really good examples of this type of service on a smaller scale in Barnsley, and I’m really pleased to see that it will now be available in all GP practices and across the borough.”

Phil Parkes, Area Lead at South Yorkshire Housing Association, said: “We’re really looking forward to working with the CCG and other organisations across the area to bring a service like this to Barnsley.

“We know from running our service in Doncaster that this sort of support makes a huge difference. Over 80% of the people we worked with in Doncaster felt more able to manage their health, and felt less isolated and lonely.

“We also saw a 68% drop in repeat visits to GP’s, so we’re confident that we can make a similar impact in Barnsley.”

When the scheme is up and running in April, My Best Life will also be looking for volunteers to help increase the variety and quality of support available to people in Barnsley. You could get involved providing follow on support, sharing your experiences with others or even by setting up groups for carers or people with specific conditions.

Just what the doctor ordered

An innovative project that gives healthcare professionals in Doncaster the option to prescribe non-medical support to patients is being rolled out across the borough.

Doncaster Social Prescribing gives GPs, pharmacists and community nurses the option to refer patients for non-medical conditions such as loneliness, housing or advice on debt.SYHA-DSP-logo-RGB

Patients referred to the project are then visited at home by a specialist adviser who assesses their individual needs and then puts them in touch with local services and community groups based on their specific needs.

The project is a partnership between South Yorkshire Housing Association (SYHA) and Doncaster CVS and is funded in by NHS Doncaster Clinic Commissioning Group and Doncaster Metropolitan Borough Council as part of the national Better Care Fund in the town.

Over the past 12 months Doncaster Social Prescribing has been piloted in 29 GP practices across Doncaster and following a hugely successful year which saw over 700 people given personalised support, has now been scaled up to cover the entire borough.

Zoe Oldfield, Enterprise Programmes Manager at SYHA said, “We’re delighted to have been commissioned to bring Doncaster Social Prescribing to the whole of Doncaster. The support provided by our team has been proven to reduce unnecessary GP appointments and hospital admissions – it’s really going to help alleviate the pressure on local NHS services.”

Mandy Willis, social prescribing manager at Doncaster CVS said, “The Doncaster Social Prescribing project is serving not only to empower people to improve their lives but also proving the invaluable contribution that the thriving community and voluntary sector here in Doncaster can make.”

Dr Rupert Suckling, Director of Public Health at Doncaster Council, said, “Health is about much more than doctors and medicines, helping people overcome loneliness, and debt have a huge impact on physical and mental health and I am pleased that this approach will now be available across Doncaster.”

Dr Nick Tupper, Chair of NHS Doncaster CCG, said, “Social prescription is another way that we can reduce the strain on busy GPs by offering an alternative which empowers people to tackle their health problems which can’t be solved through pills, tablets and other medical interventions.”

If you, or anyone you know might benefit from the support offered by Doncaster Social Prescribing contact your GP, pharmacist or community nurse and ask to be referred to the service.

Social Prescribing in Doncaster

Social prescribing in Doncaster

We are pleased to announce that our Social Prescribing project has won an NHS Alliance Award 2014. Along with Doncaster CVS we were presented wight he award on the 4th December 2014 for best Provider Collaboration. You can see an example of why we won the award this short video about Joan and her dog Badger.


People in some areas of Doncaster can now get a doctor’s prescription for more than medicine through Doncaster Social Prescribing. Social prescribing is a relatively new way for GPs to refer patients for non-medical support from a wealth of existing services and community groups.

Listen to Zoe Oldfield (SYHA) and Sue Womack (Doncaster CVS)
talk about social prescribing in Doncaster.


SYHA Enterprise Programmes Manager Zoe Oldfield explains:

“The way it works is, your GP may be aware that you’ve been having problems in addition to the ones he can treat –maybe you’re not getting out much, or perhaps your debt is climbing, or you may be struggling to cope after losing a loved one.  He writes a prescription that refers you to Doncaster Social Prescribing, and we send you an advisor who connects you with the resources that best fit your needs.”

Both the doctor and the patient benefit from social prescribing because neither of them needs to go hunting for the right support group. There are literally hundreds of voluntary and community groups for all kinds of social issues and other factors that impact upon our daily lives, from dealing with debt and bereavement to social isolation and housing.

 “The way it works is, your GP may be aware that you’ve been having problems in addition to the ones he can treat …  He writes a prescription that refers you to Doncaster Social Prescribing, and we send you an advisor who connects you with the resources that best fit your needs.”

Mandy Willis, the newly appointed Social Prescribing Manager who will be based at Doncaster CVS, stated:

“Non-medical issues can have an enormous impact on our general health and wellbeing, leading to a range of different long-term health conditions. Upon referral to our Social Prescribing Team, an appointment will be made with the patient and an advisor will visit and carry out an assessment, working with the patient to look at community-based support relevant to their individual circumstances. The advisor’s role is to act as a conduit between the patient and the wider community and voluntary support network.”

When patients utilise services already available in their community, GPs find their workload is lightened. In trials elsewhere in England, social prescribing has been proven to reduce doctor visits, hospitalisations and admissions into care.

“Non-medical issues can have an enormous impact on our general health and wellbeing…”

Doncaster CVS Health Manager Sue Womack says:

“At a time when there is an increasing demand on Health and Social Care services as a result of an ageing population, organisations need to work smarter to find innovative solutions to support our communities. Doncaster CVS  and SYHA believe that, with the right support and funding, the voluntary and community sector and Housing Associations working together can provide some of those solutions.”

The pilot is being delivered through a partnership between South Yorkshire Housing Association (SYHA) and Doncaster CVS with a grant from the Doncaster Innovation Fund. GPs in North West and Central localities can now register with Doncaster Social Prescribing.  Contact Mandy Willis, Social Prescribing Manager, at 01302 347195 (239) or