Portsmouth is to receive a share of nearly £4.5m government funding for an innovative scheme to help tackle social isolation.
Local charity The YOU Trust, supported by NHS Portsmouth Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and Portsmouth City Council, are one of just 23 programmes to receive funding from the Department of Health and Social Care Health and Wellbeing Fund.
The new service will be run by the trust and offer what is known as social prescribing – which aims to support people with a range of social, emotional or practical needs by improving their mental health and physical well-being.
Nicola Youern, the trust’s Chief Executive, said: “We are very pleased that we have been able to bring this funding to Portsmouth and to work with GPs across the city to support the health and well-being of their patients. At a time when the NHS, local GPs and councils are facing enormous pressure, innovative approaches to public health are needed.
"People are experts in their own lives, but can become isolated because of health or other personal circumstances. This is all about empowering people to explore their options and decide on a plan that's right for them."
Cllr Matthew Winnington, the council’s Cabinet Member for Health, Wellbeing and Social Care, said: "The needs of our city are changing - social isolation has a huge impact on both individuals and health and social care systems.
"We're thrilled that this scheme has secured funding. Not only will it make a difference to local people, it's also an exciting opportunity for the statutory and voluntary sector to work together to build something better for the future."
The service is expected to start this autumn and will build on the work achieved by the Action Portsmouth (a project run by Action Hampshire) signposting service, which has successfully signposted hundreds of people to a range of community resources that provide social, emotional or practical support, including art and dance groups, housing advice and lunch and gardening clubs.
Dr Linda Collie, the CCG’s Chief Clinical Officer, said: “We would like to formally thank Action Portsmouth for delivering this signposting service with such commitment over the last few years.
“GPs and other health and social care professionals will be able to refer patients to the service. The YOU Trust team will work with individuals to agree goals tailored to their needs - whether that's attending a local luncheon club, learning a new skill or volunteering.”