Brenda lives in Glossop and is in her 70s. She was given a social prescription by a practice nurse after struggling with a number of physical and wellbeing issues following the death of her husband.

Brenda said:

“I have various long-term conditions and health problems including: diabetes, angina, heart failure, high blood pressure, arthritis, dizzy spells, panic attacks and anxiety. I am also a bit unsteady on my feet and have had falls previously, which has really knocked my confidence.

My husband died a few years ago. I miss him every day. We used to do everything together and when he died my confidence hit an all-time low – I felt so isolated and lonely. It’s not easy to cook when it’s just for one, so I’d often miss meals and no longer enjoyed food.

I heard about The Bureau (social prescribing service) after visiting my GP surgery and seeing a practice nurse. The nurse could see I was struggling mentally and physically and referred me to the social prescribing service for some support. I met with Ruth, a community navigator (link worker) and we talked about everything – the difficulties I was experiencing and the impact this was having on my day to day life.

It was like I knew Ruth immediately. She quickly found out what was most important to me (reconnecting with people socially) and came up with some things we could do together to help. We talked for about six months, over the phone and at my house – having someone I could talk to honestly about how I was feeling was priceless. Ruth also came with me to some groups – I couldn’t face going alone.

I love Time Out, The Bureau’s weekly shopping group and the Simmondley Lunch Club – both have been a lifeline and give me something exciting to look forward to each week. They don’t just give me something to do though, through these groups I have even re-connected with people I lost contact with many years ago. These friendships have got me through the really sad times.

Ruth also helped with some more practical things. She came with me to a mobility shop in Romiley to purchase a rollator (mobility aid), which meant I could go on holiday to Llandudno. She also referred me to the Citizen’s Advice Bureau Over 65’s Champion, and I was awarded the High Rate of Attendance Allowance meaning that I gained an income increase of £85.60 per week, which has been a real help with house maintenance. And Ruth put me in touch with HK Lunches which is a local hot food home delivery service – I really enjoy the meals and am eating well and regularly now.

I like to think of Ruth and The Bureau as family – they always help with advice, information and support. I couldn’t ask for more.

I am feeling happier and healthier now. I feel well in myself and finally, after the death of my husband, connected to others and part of the community.”

Ruth Towner-Yates, Community Navigator at The Bureau in Glossop, said:

“Brenda was recently bereaved, struggling with some health problems, sometimes skipped meals, socially isolated and had lost her confidence. I remember her telling me during our first meeting that she felt we were already friends… How could I not do my best to support her?

Indeed, it was the quality of our relationship that enabled us to enjoy nine home visits and multiple outings over a six-month period. During this time, we covered lots of ground: maximising income by securing benefit uptake; linking in with social and community groups connecting Brenda with old friends and helping her to make new friends; improving disabled access and acquiring mobility equipment thereby reducing the risk of falls; improving nutrition and removing barriers to her enjoying a good diet.

So, in the end, what did all this mean for Brenda? Now she feels safe and well, she’s confident, assertive, happy and above all is enjoying life. And as for me well I had the privilege of guiding her on her journey to better wellbeing and feel secure in the knowledge that social prescribing really is a catalyst for meaningful change.”

Louise Wilkinson, nurse at the Simmondley Medical Practice, said:

“I am Brenda’s practice nurse. When I started working at the surgery Benda struggled to go out. She felt isolated and quite lonely. She had stopped socialising and had lost confidence. I visited her a number of times and phoned her regularly.

I discussed a referral to The Bureau several times – it was a challenge to get her to agree to it as she didn’t really understand what they did and couldn’t see how they could help her. So, I just said have a chat on the phone and find out.

Best thing ever – Brenda blossomed. When I phone now, she is rarely in. She is out at lunches or visits of some sort. She is so much happier and much more confident.

I think The Bureau is great and I have signposted many people to it for help.”

Chris Easton, Head of Person and Community Centred Approaches at Tameside and Glossop Integrated Care NHS Foundation Trust, said:

“We know that the majority of things that affect our health and wellbeing have little to do with the traditional delivery of health and care services. Much more significant is where people live, the lifestyle choices they make, the connections they have and a range of social and economic factors. This is why social prescribing and our wider more than medicine approach has become so central to the way we work in Tameside and Glossop. Finding ways of bridging the gap between the clinical parts of the system and community-based support that help people with the wider determinants of health is critical to population health and also to the future of the health and care system.

These approaches not only have a positive impact on outcomes for individuals and communities but have also been shown to have a significant impact on healthcare usage.”

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