Hervey Bay Neighbourhood Centre’s (HBNC) Connecting Communities Social Prescription Pilot is a first-of-its-kind service for the Wide Bay region with an aim to support and empower community members to connect, participate, contribute and thrive.

Social Prescription Models are a non-medical option used by health professionals when a person has needs related to socio-economic and psychosocial issues. Similar to prescribing medication when someone is unwell, the prescription of particular social connections is given to the client. Developed in the UK, social prescription aims to improve health outcomes by addressing the issues of social isolation and loneliness by implementing a sustained, structural change to how a person moves between professional sectors and into their community.

HBNC’s program aims to explore and address factors including socio-economic challenges, distance from family and friends, public transport access, language barriers, information insecurity and social challenges.

Community members will be able to seek support to access activities, groups or other programs with the aim of providing long-term friendship, engagement and purpose. Community members can join the program through self-referral or via another service such as a medical practitioner, psychologist or allied health professional.

The Connecting Communities Social Prescription Pilot program will enable health care professionals to refer patients to a link worker, to co-design a non-clinical social prescription approach to improving their health and wellbeing. These Link Support Volunteers will work closely with participants to address any barriers to engagement and identify the activities or groups most likely to match with participants’ needs and desires.

The Link Support volunteer may also accompany the participant to a number of the activity sessions to reduce the fear and overwhelm often associated with new environments.

Tanya Stevenson, HBNC CEO, said this new initiative was indicative of the organisation’s commitment to evolve its services and address emerging community challenges.

“We believe that addressing underlying issues to improve connection will enhance the long-term health and happiness of individuals and overall wellbeing of the community, in turn reducing impacts on the overburdened health and mental health services,” said Tanya.

We are excited to see Neighbourhood and Community Centres implementing innovative approaches to community wellbeing and look forward to seeing the ongoing impacts this pilot program has in the Wide Bay Region.

Written by: Taylor Bast
Published: August 2023