National roles for Valerie and Sean

Valerie Campbell and Sean Macfarlane, two of Inverclyde's voluntary sector workers, have been appointed Champions for the National Association of Link Workers (NALW), two of only three people in Scotland to take up these new voluntary roles.

Valerie is Lead Community Link Worker (CLW) with the CVS Inverclyde team and Sean is Social Prescribing Coordinator through SPRING Social Prescribing, part of the £3.5 million project funded by the National Lottery and Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs. Sean also coordinates the Community Connector project, funded by Inverclyde Health and Social Care Partnership (HSCP) for the past four years. Both projects are managed by Your Voice.

The CLW team were recruited by CVS Inverclyde at the end of 2017, with funding from the Scottish Government and Inverclyde HSCP. This was part of the National Links Worker Programme to introduce different skills directly into medical practices locally. They work with patients who have social challenges, which may affect their health or are already impacting upon their wellbeing, helping alleviate some of the pressures felt by GPs.

Valerie and Sean will both provide a point of contact for support with other social prescribing organisations and individual link workers in Scotland, as well as share learning and promote the NALW code of practice to help ensure people work to the same principles.

Social prescribing is a healthcare model that takes a whole-person, holistic approach to people's health and wellbeing, including looking at social and welfare issues to ensure patients have the best chance to live well. It offers an alternative, non-medicalised approach, often working alongside medical settings, such as Valerie and the CLW team's roles of working in GP practices across Inverclyde.

"We believe this national appointment is a very positive reflection of the great work Valerie and the CLW team are doing here in Inverclyde," said Charlene Elliott, Chief Executive Officer, of CVS Inverclyde.

"Valerie and Sean's appointments come just ahead of Social Prescribing Day 2020 taking place on Thursday 12 March, which highlights the importance and significance of social prescribing within modern healthcare today. We are already seeing the benefits of their work here in Inverclyde."

Karen Haldane, Executive Officer, Your Voice, said: "We are delighted Sean has been appointed as a National Champion for Scotland in recognition of the outstanding achievements of both the Social Prescribing and Community Connector staff who have been instrumental in developing social prescribing across the communities of Inverclyde for the last 4 years. The impact of this work is evident in the positive feedback and improved health & well-being of local people."

Commenting on her role, Valerie, who works in the Drs McCartney, Addiscott & Green GP practice in Port Glasgow Health Centre, said: "We are delighted to take on this new role, which will see us connect directly with the NALW community online, such as facilitating monthly peer mentoring sessions, networking and sharing best practice. As well as helping the NALW gather information around existing social prescribing programmes to ensure an up-to-date database of information, we will support the development of resources and share our experience with other link workers through workshop settings."

Sean said: "I provide patients with one to one community support for a range of emotional or practical needs. Social prescribing empowers people to make decisions about their own health and connects them to suitable programmes and services in the community, such as social cafes, counselling sessions, volunteering or exercise classes. It is this community approach that makes a difference to peoples' lives, with the overall aim of taking the pressure of GPs and reducing demand for health and social care services, providing holistic care for the individual. It is really empowering when you assist someone who is struggling with their mental or physical health and see them thrive.

"Social Prescribing is now more recognised within communities. This is because it works! NALW are really driving forward this positive impact. Their mission is to be the UK's single point of access for social prescribing link worker support and development, promoting quality and consistency in professional standards and practices."

Valerie and the CLW team of seven work within all GP practices in Inverclyde to support people with non-medical, social issues and help them access services that can improve their health and wellbeing, with CVS Inverclyde as their base. Since the CLW programme was established in Inverclyde December 2017, the team have supported more than 2,200 patients locally, with key referral issues have been around finance, mental health, stress, housing and employment.

Sean and the Community Connector team based at Your Voice, primarily work with people who are socially isolated to help them connect more with their community, encouraging them to get back on track and take part in activities and interests. People can contact him directly or through referrals from HSCP professionals and community organisations, as well as from family, friends and neighbours.


Click here for more about Social Prescribing Day 2020 taking place on Thursday 12 March 

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