The Social Prescribing Link Worker Community of Practice conference on 10th October in London was just what the doctor ordered.
As a NHS Social Prescriber Linkworker myself, recently in post (3 months), the conference was a useful day that included people from all over the UK. There were speakers with presentations, group exercises and peer support.
For me what stood out was focusing on the need of new staff in these roles, which is vital, in order for us all to feel supported, which is the only way Social Prescribing as a service will survive and thrive.
Individual staff had the chance to share ideas and experiences with one another, including what caseloads look like, measuring tools, diversity, community assets and so forth.
It was beneficial to be in a space with other Link Workers, as currently there is little of this type of peer support and it is necessary in what can be an isolating role.
Speakers gave fantastic examples of great practice in their own organisations, and what was involved, including the challenges. It was inspirational to hear what they made possible for their communities and the capacity for growth, providing there is a solid team and foundation.
NALW spoke about us all needing to collectively voice the value of Link Workers and how to champion the time and resources needed for Link Workers, in order to fulfil their roles and best support patients.
NALW are working towards policies and best practice for this new and emerging role, which feels like a welcome organisation during all the current challenges and changes.
NALW recognised how Link Workers need to be recognised as a profession of its own and to stand proud amongst all the other professions, and conferences such as this one is a chance to nourish the work done by all.
Contacts were shared and a WhatsApp group has been set up in which several of those present are sharing stories during this new and nerve wracking time.
Prior to this conference, NALW included me in a peer mentoring conference call when I first started in my role, which involved learning from an experienced Link Worker and a new Social Prescribing Link Worker based elsewhere.
Since social prescribing is initially starting with one or two Link Workers for each PCN, it is key to break isolation and conferences like these and NALW’s work makes you feel inspired and not alone in your efforts.
National Association of Link Workers is the only UK professional network for Social Prescribing Link Workers increasing professionalism and reducing isolation. A UK community of practice for all Social Prescribing Link Workers to share learning, build resilience, develop, network and support each other in order to achieve improved quality of life for themselves, their clients/patients and communities.