Housing delivering social prescribing


HACT and the Centre for Excellence in Community Investment launch a new report on the role of housing associations in delivering social prescribing in London.

“Housing associations have a key role to play in the delivery of social prescribing across London,” said Andrew van Doorn, Chief Executive of HACT. “They are significant investors in communities across the capital and are already supporting a range of activities for Londoners. This report includes a number of examples of housing associations taking a lead in social prescribing in London, including Poplar HARCA in east London and Peabody in Thamesmead.”

“The London Health Inequalities Strategy includes a commitment from the Mayor of London to support more Londoners in vulnerable or deprived communities to benefit from social prescribing. Our report, Social prescribing: incorporating London’s major housing associations into the GLA’s next steps for social prescribing highlights how the GLA can work in partnership with housing associations, building on their community-based infrastructure. To realise this strategy, the GLA needs to demonstrate it understands the potential role and value of housing associations, and to show its commitment to involving them in its delivery.”

“There are many initiatives that housing associations across London are already delivering, whether or not they are called social prescribing. We believe the GLA should fund a small number of pilots with housing associations in the lead role. These will help to demonstrate the value of this approach, provide examples of replicable models, and create resources that can be used by other housing associations across the capital.”

The report was commissioned by the GLA, who asked HACT to help them engage with the social housing sector in London. The report outlines the role of housing associations and their relevance to social prescribing, who the key players are in London, and which are best placed to engage with the social prescribing agenda, and how best to take this engagement forward. The report has been used to inform the GLA’s forthcoming next steps for social prescribing strategy.

One in ten Londoners live in a housing association home. Existing areas of housing association work that are relevant to the social prescribing agenda include employment support, financial inclusion, digital inclusion, health and wellbeing, safer, stronger communities, and the physical environment. Housing associations are also the main providers of specialist and supported housing, which are key areas for delivering the social prescribing vision.

Social prescribing is a concept that has grown in popularity in recent years, and has been picked up by the NHS, which describes it as “a means of enabling GPs and other frontline healthcare professionals to refer people to ‘services’ in their community instead of offering only medicalised solutions”. Whilst other organisations have slightly different definitions, they all converge on the same central point, which is that social prescribing is about helping people access non-clinical services in their community that can improve their mental and physical health and wellbeing.