Health professionals and community organisations in Greater Manchester will be investigating how social prescribing can help build cycling, walking and other ways to move into people’s lives, thanks to a £100,000 government grant.
The money has been handed over by the Department for Transport (DfT) to fund a feasibility study that could enable more people across Greater Manchester to take trips on foot or by bike and experience the mental and physical benefits of leading a more active life.
If successful, the scheme would encourage and support people in areas where health inequalities are evident, or people struggle to be more physically active, to adopt active travel into their lives.
A £2.2 million pot of funding has been released from the DfT to over 30 local authorities in the UK to undertake the research.
Trudy Harrison MP, Cycling and Walking Minister, said: “This funding will allow us to explore whether GPs could prescribe active travel to treat a variety of conditions and I’m very pleased that Transport for Greater Manchester is interested in this valuable and fascinating research.”
Zoe Porter, Personalisation lead at the Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership, said: “Across Greater Manchester, GPs and other health and care teams are working hand in hand with local communities to create opportunities for people to live healthy happy lives.
“Social prescribing enables this, and we are delighted to be able to explore with transport colleagues how we can help support more people to incorporate walking and cycling into their lives.
“Unfortunately, so much of modern life doesn’t support movement, so building active travel into our goal setting with clients is a great way to tackle this.
“Connecting people into, and supporting them to attend social activities, helps them feel a part of their community and gives them a reason to leave their homes.”
Richard Nickson, Programme Director for Cycling and Walking at TfGM, said: “I’m really pleased that GM is involved in this innovative approach to health and wellbeing.
“Although it is early days, this funding would enable us to take a significant step towards social prescribing that will help more people across GM to be able to access the positive benefits that comes with active travel, both physically and mentally”
Social prescribing is growing across the region with more GPs, nurses and other health and care professionals in Greater Manchester referring people to a range of local, non-clinical services to support their health and wellbeing.
This can range from nature-based activities such as gardening, arts and crafts through to physical activity and recreation, and other social groups, with the support of Social Prescribing Link Workers who will work with people to help them achieve their goals.