National sport and wellbeing charity StreetGames has been commissioned by NHS England and NHS Improvement to produce new national guidance for social prescribing targeted at children and young people.

The guidance will help provide a national framework for how children and young people can receive effective support in the community to improve their health and wellbeing.

While most social prescribing models to date have focused on older adults, there is a growing recognition that children and young people have the greatest need for preventative health care approaches.  Mental health problems amongst children and young people are on the rise, while more than 20% of Year 6 children are classified as obese. These problems are far worse for young people in the most-deprived communities. As pressures on the health service increase, GPs urgently need alternative pathways for young patients whose problems are often complex and where traditional medical pathways have not been the right solution.

StreetGames is at the forefront of youth social prescribing, having set up delivery programmes in four English towns and cities (Brighton & Hove, Luton, Sheffield and Southampton) to work with vulnerable young people, aged 5-25, helping them to get extra care and support in their local neighbourhood.

Now the charity will be drawing on that experience to develop a framework for how children and young people across the country can be given the support they need. The guidance will inform future youth social prescribing services and help to develop new ways to support young people within their local communities.  The charity is working with Dr Marcello Bertotti of the University of East London and Dr Marie Polley, Co Chair of the National Social Prescribing Network.

 

Mark Lawrie, Acting CEO of StreetGames, said:

“Children, teenagers and families in our poorest neighborhoods deserve a leg-up, to get somewhere close to an even footing with their wealthier neighbours.  It is not right that people suffer poorer health, earlier deaths, poorer schooling, greater neglect and fewer job opportunities, simply by chance of where we are born. 

Social prescribing is set to have a major impact, by tapping into the resources each community holds and connecting people with services they didn’t know about.  We are proud to be working with NHS England and NHS Improvement on this vital work.  In the coming weeks, we will be asking young people and families to tell us exactly what this new service should look like.”

 

Liza Jarvis, Senior Manager Personalised Care, Children and Young People, NHSE&I

“Social prescribing has been seen to have a significant impact on improving outcomes for some of our most vulnerable people, we need to ensure this is extended to children and young people in a way that makes sense to them and is easy to access. We are looking forward to working in partnership with StreetGames to identify the best way to do this and offer social prescribing as a truly ‘all age’ service.