Opportunities and Challenges of Social Prescribing in Arts and Culture

The Mayor of London sets out to explore the links between arts, culture and social prescribing; with the aim of identifying best practice and understanding what the Mayor of London could do to support future ‘cultural social prescribing’ projects.

At the centre of this research was the ambition to place health and wellbeing at the heart of London Borough of Culture programmes and upcoming years and future bids.  Commissioned as an independent report to explore the social prescribing activity taking place in four boroughs linked with London Borough of Culture.

Nikki Crane Associates carried out their research between March and July 2020 and captured activity before and during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Over twenty people across four boroughs (Barking & Dagenham, Camden, Lewisham and Waltham Forest) were consulted, including culture team members, social prescribing link workers, health and social care colleagues as well as voluntary community and social enterprise sector (VCSE) organisations.

Regional and national arts and health colleagues at organisations including Arts Council England, London Arts and Health and the London Social Prescribing Network, were also consulted. Some key themes and recommendations emerged from the report.

What the report found out

A rich variety of arts and cultural social prescribing is happening in all four boroughs. However, a large part of the success is down to key individuals or champions in each borough.

There is a need for greater connectivity and coordination between the culture, health and care sectors so that link workers and health professionals know what cultural activity is available.

The London Borough of Culture programme has had a positive impact on social prescribing by raising the profile of culture and bringing people together from different sectors, services and organisations.

COVID-19 has shown how arts and culture can engage vulnerable and isolated people, improve wellbeing, connect communities and support health professionals at a time of extreme pressure.

Strong leadership is crucial from both local authorities and the local health system, as well as champions within services, who need the proper tools, connections and evidence base.

To find out more about the report visit the Mayor of London Website –https://www.london.gov.uk/city-hall-blog/opportunities-challenges-social-prescribing-arts-and-culture

Illustration by Amber Anderson

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