Social Prescribing

Social Prescribing is where you are prescribed activity or exercise to improve your physical health and mental wellbeing. It may be used in place of medication or alongside other forms of treatment. It’s also known as a community referral.

Who Social Prescribing is for

Social Prescribing works well for people with:

  • mild or long term mental wellbeing issues
  • long term health conditions, such as: multiple sclerosis, diabetes, heart disease or people who need to lose weight
  • loneliness and isolation
  • social or emotional needs
  • and for people who make repeat visits to health care services

How Social Prescribing works

  1.  GPs, nurses, social workers or healthcare professionals refer you to a Social Prescribing Service. You are given an appointment with a  Link Worker also known as a connector, navigator or an enabler
  2.  they work with you to understand your needs and interests, to create your personal plan
  3.  you are connected to activities in your community such as cooking classes, gardening, art, music, exercise, lunch clubs, volunteering
  4.  support may be given to you to attend activities in the community until you feel confident to attend independently
  5.  further appointments and continued support are offered where needed.
Examples of how Social Prescribing may help
  • If you are feeling lonely connecting you to a social group, befriender or activity might help you to feel supported or valued.
  • Losing weight may help to you to improve your health along with others who recognise your goals in walking groups or community gym sessions

How Social Prescribing works in Newcastle

Social Prescribing is a partnership between health services and the voluntary and community sector. Newcastle has benefited from Social Prescribing for a number of years. It was piloted in the West of the city and other areas are now using it.

Social prescribing navigators help and support patients by signposting them to sources of support in the community. This may include, for example, help with financial, housing, lifestyle, mobility, social and general advice. Link workers differ from navigators in that they take on a more hands-on approach to help a patient access their community settings/ meet their needs.

Primary Care Networks (PCNs)

Social Prescribing is an important part of the NHS 10 Year Long Term Plan. NHS England has rolled out funding and social prescribing link workers have been appointed to the following geographical locations, known as Primary Care Networks.

Primary Care Networks (PCNs) consist of GP Practices working together with a range of local providers.  These include services in primary care, social care and the voluntary and community sector. Each GP Practice in Newcastle is a member of one of these Primary Care Networks and has a Board and GP representative.  The population for each PCN is between 30 and 50,000 residents who are registered with a GP Practice and they have drawn up their priorities to support their given population.  In Newcastle, the PCNs are:

Outer West PCN 

West End Family Health PCN

Inner West PCN

North Gosforth PCN

Jesmond Lower/Gosforth PCN

East PCN

Central PCN

Read more about PCNs on the NHS England website.

Each PCN will focus on developing services within their communities that meet the needs of their residents.  Services include: action on diabetes, counselling, eating well, weight management, early physiotherapy conversations, support for people with a learning disability, mental health occupational therapy and wellbeing support.

Local Social Prescribing Services

Speak to your GP to find out how it works in your area.  See further details below.  There are a variety of existing social prescribing services in Newcastle and you may be referred to one of these by your GP or health professional:

Activities and events in your neighbourhood

You don’t need a social prescription to get connected and get support to reach a health or social goal.  InformationNOW has articles and activities based in your neighbourhood and across Newcastle:



Last updated: April 12, 2023