Unlocking the potential of social prescribing through the Thriving Communities Fund

John McMahon discusses unlocking the potential of social prescribing through the Thriving Communities Fund. Published by the Arts Council England, 18 March 2021

This week marks exactly a year since the first national lockdown. Over that time, not only have we’ve learned more about the nature of the virus itself, but we’ve built a much clearer understanding of how some communities are more vulnerable – not only at greater risk of contracting coronavirus, but more subject to its secondary impacts, including loneliness, mental ill health, housing instability, food insecurity, and loss of income.

It is timely, in this context, that today Arts Council England  announce the 37 projects that will be supported through the Thriving Communities Fund, an innovative partnership programme with the National Academy for Social Prescribing (NASP) and other agencies including NHS England & NHS Improvement, Historic England, Natural England and Sport England.

Over the next 12 months, these projects will devise local activities and support for those communities most vulnerable to the impacts of Covid-19. Collectively, the 37 projects will seek to engage over 8,000 people in a range of activities, including visual arts, dance, music, libraries and museum-based work, as well as nature, physical activity, and providing support around issues like housing, debt and food insecurity.

Each project will reinforce the local partnerships that are key to a successful social prescribing offer, linking together and fostering long-term collaboration between healthcare; culture, sport, and nature-based organisations; and the wider voluntary and community sector.

In recognition of the quality of applications received, alongside NASP and the additional funding partners, Historic England and Natural England, ACE have been able to increase the programme budget from £1.4 million to £1.8 million. In addition to this, the projects themselves have confirmed over £670,000 cash match funding, and over £674,000 support-in-kind.

Visit www.artscouncil.org.uk/blog/unlocking-potential-social-prescribing-through-thriving-communities-fund  to read the full blog by John McMahon, Arts Council England Lead on Arts and Health

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