Bury Social Prescribing Service
VCFA Beacon Service

What is it?

Our Beacon Social Prescribing service connects anyone registered with GP and aged over 18 to access a whole range of groups and organisations providing activities across the Bury area.

Our experienced Link Workers’ use their local knowledge to make connections to activities that match individuals and their needs and interests. Whether it is socialising, physical exercise or access to creative activities and hobbies, social prescribing is essential promoting better self-care and significantly increased health and wellbeing.

The Beacon Service is independent and not part of the NHS, however we do work in partnership with our local NHS especially GP surgeries and Primary Care Networks.
The term ‘social prescribing’ is used to describe a service which supports people to access a choice of non-medical services and activities in their local area.

So far we have supported almost 2000 clients to access support and activities in communities across Bury.

What we do

The Beacon service helps improve an individual’s wellbeing by connecting them to support with around 1200 charitable groups of all sizes across Bury. Our comprehensive volunteering service also provides numerous opportunities to get involved in your community, make friends and learn new skills. 

Our connections to activities include social events, mental health support and physical activities. Our aim is to address social, economic and environmental factors affecting people’s health, where medication alone is unlikely to provide a sustainable improvement.

We take a localised approach to cater for the needs of our clients, our Link Workers are based in the following areas: Bury East, Bury West, Bury North, Prestwich and Whitefield, to make connections to activities and groups in all areas of Bury.

What we do

The Beacon service helps improve an individual’s wellbeing by connecting them to support with around 1200 charitable groups of all sizes across Bury. Our comprehensive volunteering service also provides numerous opportunities to get involved in your community, make friends and learn new skills. 

Our connections to activities include social events, mental health support and physical activities. Our aim is to address social, economic and environmental factors affecting people’s health, where medication alone is unlikely to provide a sustainable improvement.

We take a localised approach to cater for the needs of our clients, our Link Workers are based in the following areas: Bury East, Bury West, Bury North, Prestwich and Whitefield, to make connections to activities and groups in all areas of Bury.

What does this Involve?

Once we receive a referral they will be assigned to one of our Link Workers who will make an initial telephone call to discuss any support needs and interests. 

Initial contact involves development of a wellbeing plan based on what matters to the individual, for example Link Workers will explore potential community groups and activities which meet their interests and provide a person centred approach to bring out the best of individuals interests and needs.

We recognise attending a new activity can be daunting. We work flexibly and if needed can offer multiple appointments to support and explore any barriers to attendance, such as anxiety, and formulate a plan to reduce this.

Once they have engaged with an organisation we will review if this has been beneficial and consider if there is any further support we can offer.

In supporting individuals to access community groups we hope to:

Connect

Connect you with new friends so you feel less isolated.

Improve

Improve your mental wellbeing

Increase

Increase your physical activity

Control

Put you in control of your own health and wellbeing

Who We Support

We support people who are:

  • Aged 18+
  • Registered with a Bury GP
  • Is a Bury Resident
  • Willing to engage with the programme and be supported

This service is voluntary and if a patient is not ready to be supported we may not be able to accept the referral

Our Service

  • Access to over 500 VCSE groups on our database
  • 100’s of Volunteering Opportunities
  • 1000’s of community based activities e.g.
    • Social Clubs e.g. Lunch
    • Leisure activities – e.g. walking, gardening
    • Arts, culture and creative activities
    • Befriending and support groups.
    • Welfare benefits and financial support
    • Emotional wellbeing

The Beacon service uses knowledge and connections to over 1200 voluntary and community groups and organisations to encourage better self-care and to develop the skills and knowledge to increase mental and physical wellbeing

Areas of Support

  • Clear navigation and simple access
  • Wide range of support services in the VCSE.
  • greater control of their own health
  • Improve in mental health and wellbeing
  • Involvement in the community
  • Learn new skill or participate in a new activity
  • Increase self- confidence and self esteem
  • Better quality of life

Who we can help/Reasons for Referrals

Here are examples of issues that we may be able to help with.

  • Low Self-esteem/Confidence
  • Physical Inactivity
  • Social isolation and loneliness
  • Mental Health & Wellbeing
  • Life events e.g. bereavement,
  • Long term health conditions
  • Anxiety due to issues such as housing Finance, work or relationships

To refer please fill in our referral form and email this to beaconservice@buryvcfa.org.uk please also note GPs can refer via Vision.

Social Prescribing during post COVID

We are now offering both remote and face to face support to cater for individual needs. For more information, please contact Bury VCFA Beacon Service by calling 0161 518 5550 or you can email us at beaconservice@buryvcfa.org.uk

Beacon Service Impact

The social prescribing team found that 80% of referrals found themselves visiting their GP and/or the Hospital less frequently after speaking to a social prescribing link worker.

90% of people that speaking to a link worker had a positive impact on their lives and 80% of referrals now felt more optimistic about the future.

Top reasons for referral include, loneliness and isolation, better mental wellbeing and access to physical activities to improve physical wellbeing, all support is tailored to the needs of the individual

The Impact on the Person

Feels more in control and able to manage their own health and wellbeing
Is more physically active
Is better able to manage practical issues, such as debt, housing and mobility
Is more connected to others and less isolated or less lonely

The Impact on the Person

Feels more in control and able to manage their own health and wellbeing
Is more physically active
Is better able to manage practical issues, such as debt, housing and mobility
Is more connected to others and less isolated or less lonely

The Impact on the Community

More volunteers engaged in Social Prescribing
More VCF groups involved in Social Prescribing
Funding secured to build capacity and/or sustainability

Mental Health and Emotional Well-being Personal Stories

NC is a 58-year-old male who was referred to the Beacon Service via the MDT. He was referred to the MDT as he was experiencing low mood, anxiety, he was isolated and was feeling stuck.
NC had lived on the streets for 6 years after he experienced what he describes as a mental health breakdown. He had previously had 3 suicide attempts. NC is now in his own property and resides with his daughter who is also his carer
I worked with NC over a 6-month period and worked on reducing his anxiety and building his confidence leaving his property.
NC has now taken control of his own finances and is managing to run his property independently, without the high level of support he was receiving from his daughter.
NC has been attending One Step gym twice a week and is finding the exercise and meditation has decreased his anxiety levels and helped him gain confidence to speak to new people.
NC has been offered a volunteering opportunity at Bury Hospice Warehouse and is actively looking for voluntary driving opportunities, he’s enrolled on a computer course to enhance his IT skills and to gain more confidence filling out application forms.
NC has not experienced any suicidal ideations and has stated that “I feel like a new man, and feel excited about my future and that I have a purpose”.

Rebecca BerryBury West Link Worker

Client X was referred through the Multi-Disciplinary Team meeting with a number of support needs and medical problems –
When engaging with the client, it was clear that she had limited knowledge of groups and services in Bury as her daughter in law who is one of her carers lived outside the borough and was not familiar with the area.
After our initial consultation I was able to provide a number of suggestions to local support groups/services including telephone numbers and web links, which would enable the family to support their elderly parents.
The ‘local’ information provided to the client’s daughter in law would enable her to support her family and herself. To my ‘deep joy’ on following up with the daughter in law ALL suggestions and links had been actioned and she had followed up the local connections I provided.
The client was able to access some of the following services, including Bury Carers centre, Blue Badge information, transport for Greater Manchester – Ring and Ride, Dementia helpline, local library – (for book delivery) and connecting her to the, ‘Staying Well’ team to get rails fitted access the Borrow Box app and connect to local Dementia groups.
The clients’ daughter had gone through the information and contacts provided – as if it was a checklist and had ‘ticked’ every action/suggestion off. The client was very pleased as, as she stated, ‘I would not have known where to start’, you made the ‘job’ so easy. Thank you – especially the carers hub contact who provided support and a small grant to enable the carers to ‘go away’ to the Lake District for a weekend of respite.

Rosemary LomaxBury North Link Worker

V referred to our social prescribing service for support with his mental health and isolation.
He knew he needed to be more active but felt he was being pushed to do exercise at a gym which he did not want. Through listening I identified what he wanted and discussed that through joining groups he was interested in he would feel better in himself, improving his mood and his health and wellbeing.
He liked the idea of having a more structured group session led by an organisation to help build his confidence before he engages with other community activities where he would just turn up and not know anyone.
Through discussion about outdoor activities which are available locally we agreed that a referral to the Green Social prescribing project would be a good place to start before moving onto more community based activities.
Following a conversation with Jenni after introducing V to Green Social Prescribing she said
‘V has proved to be a pleasure to work with. In listening and identifying what really matters to V we have been able to improve his health and well-being whilst he is doing something he really enjoys, he is more active and his mental health is improved which through further involvement will be seen to improve even more’.

Julie BentleyPrestwich Link Worker

HG was referred to Beacon Service as he was experiencing social isolation
HG has carers twice a day, his family live in Qatar HG stated he was becoming increasingly isolated and wished to connect with a local community group, upon his initial telephone assessment HG was not sure how and what he could connect to, we explored the range of groups offered around his local area and chatted about the Ramsbottom Anglers Fishing group at the Lido.
HG was very interested in this group but was afraid that due to him using his mobility scooter he may struggle to access the group. After contact with Ramsbottom Anglers, they were happy to support HG in adapting to his needs. Beacon Service-connected HG to the group, HG stated he had always wanted to try fishing and was delighted he had now found a new hobby that has allowed him to connect to his local community and meet new people. HG had also attended Bury VCFA volunteer towards employment project, he had applied for numerous jobs but was unfortunately not successful, with support and encouragement HG now volunteers for Bury VCFA social media support twice a week.
HG wellbeing has now improved, and he no longer feels isolated, HG continues to connect to the fishing group and has stated he has met some very nice people. HG is enjoying his new role as a social media volunteer and is meeting new members of staff on the days he attends, this has given HG more confidence, improving his mental health and well-being.

Tracy HarrisonHorizons Link Worker

Client X is almost fully blind and is also struggling with her hearing. She has regular contact with her carers coming in 3 times daily to ensure she is taking correct medication.
I met with the client and we explored potential activities that she could engage with, taking into account her needs and circumstances, we took time to discuss any potential barriers to accessing groups and activities.
I was made aware of additional challenges with her accessing her GP practice as she is unable to access the building and she really needed to discuss her hearing aids which she is having some issues with.
I encouraged the service user that she could speak to her GP practice about this concern or I could do it on her behalf.
As a result the service user expressed her needs clearly to the GP practice who have since organised a hearing assessment to be carried out in the comfort of her own home. Service user was pleased with this and stated she’d have not even considered that this would have been possible.
I asked if she’d be interested in a referral to Jigsaw as they have a befriending service and luncheon club. Jigsaw befrienders can also accompany service users to the luncheon club. She was really happy with this as it would go some way to help her get back out into the community.
She stated that she was very grateful for our interventions and enjoyed meeting our Beacon Buddy Volunteer Anna and feels a lot more independent.

Nasim NawazBury East Link Worker

‘Referral X was suffering from low level mental health and felt very isolated. She used to be a very active person and wanted more structure to her week
We supported the referral to add structure to her week and eventually found ourselves exploring volunteering.
After several calls we decided to meet face to face so we could look more in-depth at the volunteering opportunities available and support the referral to complete the volunteering forms. The referral registered her interest with The Creative Living Centre and Bury Adult Learning Centre.
Bury Adult Learning have already been back in touch with a very positive response and the referral is set to start her journey back to volunteering and the hope is this will give her the structure she was after and something to look forward to each week.
We discussed becoming a beacon buddy further down the line as she was keen to explore how to support others. She mentioned this is something of interest to her but didn’t want to take on too much too soon’.

Paul MakinsonWhitefield Link Worker

For more information, please contact the Beacon Service by calling 0161 518 5550 or you can email us at beaconservice@buryvcfa.org.uk