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David attends the International Social Prescribing Conference

Updated: Jul 12

3SG's Social Prescribing Project Manager, David Jenkins, recently headed to London to join the 5th International Social Prescribing conference. Here, David shares what he learnt and the highlights of the event.

On the 18th & 19th June, I was fortunate enough to attend The International Social

Prescribing conference at The University of Westminster. On my journey to London (17th ) I

was apprehensive as to what the two days would be like. After a jam packed tube to my

hotel I was already done with London but I knew things would get better.

After checking in, I donned my running shoes (my social prescription) and set off over

London bridge, along the Thames, before looping back. After some lovely Italian food on

Bermondsey street it was time for bed and I was woken the next morning by my alarm. I'm

not usually someone to exercise in the morning, but when your routine changes you have to

adapt. I thought a run would be the best way to start my day. 

I arrived at the conference in plenty of time, a little early in fact, so I witnessed the last

minute rush that is customary with any event. After some initial networking it was time for

the welcome and key note speakers. The Vice Chancellor of The University of Westminster

welcomed us, and promoted the initiatives they are working on to tackle some of the issues

experienced by students. He did promise that the café and food available was of a good

quality so I was excited to see what lunch had in store (unfortunately it was disappointing).

The key highlights from Day 1 were as follows.

Caitlin Muhl: What is Social Prescribing (SP)? Achieving Global consensus on the definition

through a consensus study with experts from 26 countries across the globe. This was music

to my ears as both myself and many others within B&NES were grappling with the definition

and language around SP more generally. The definitions have subsequently been included

within the B&NES draft framework document, so this talk in itself was enough reason to

attend. I knew from this moment on that the conference was going to be worthwhile.

Cormac Russell: Asset Based Community Development (ABCD). I was fortunate enough to

attend a workshop facilitated by Cormac earlier in the year. One of the slides Cormac shared

was ‘ There can be no wellness without fairness’. This relates to the wider determinants of

health, and the impacts deprivation can have on quality of life and life expectancy. As

always the main focus was on the strengths (presents) of communities as opposed to

deficits. One key slide stated ‘ First By the People; and With the People & then For the

People but not To the People’.

To end the day, there was an awards ceremony. It was great to see some organisations from

Bristol be recognised for their amazing work. Fingers crossed some activities within B&NES will be recognised this time next year.

After a jam packed day it was time to head back to the hotel. I visited the same Italian for

some more delicious food. It’s safe to say it didn’t disappoint, again.

Day 2 was again a tightly packed agenda. It started with a Laughter Yoga Session, run by

Sara Kay the founder of Serious Laughter. Sara had been clinically depressed in 2016 and

life was a bit grim (her words not mine). A chance laughter workshop at a wellbeing day

changed all that. As mentioned on the website Sara went ‘From serious and depressed to

joyful and vibrant’. I highly recommend anyone running future events to consider Sara and

the team. Particularly to start the day or after that slump post lunch.

Following on from this it was great to learn more about the positive impact Social

Prescribing has had on Children and Young People (CYP) across the country. This links in with

Sir Michael Marmot principles in relation to CYP:

  • Give every child the best start in life

  • Enable all children, young people and adults to maximise their capabilities and have

control over their lives.

This leads on nicely to the speaker of the day, and the speaker of the conference, Professor

Sir Michael Marmot. Yes some of the statistics were rather doom and gloom but as he

displayed ‘ To be truly radical is to make hope possible rather than despair convincing’

Raymond Williams Welsh Novelist & Critic 1921-88. I’m looking forward to reading some of his books, as well as the many journals he has published. I came away from this speech inspired to ensure that I’m always advocating for fairness and equality.

On the whole it was a great two days. A couple of suggested improvements would be:

  • Better quality food: particularly when several speakers had advocated for good food

to help prevent ill health

  • Longer breaks: to help ensure people could travel between lecture halls

  • Greater access to the outdoors: perhaps a SP activity run in a local park/ green

space. There were several arts/crafts activities in the foyer which were brilliant.

If anyone has any questions please do not hesitate to contact me via

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