Social prescribing research project secures funding

23 May 2022

A research project which aims to increase diversity in cultural and natural social prescribing programmes through shared training has been awarded £74,656 from the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC).

The Social Prescribing for All (SP4ALL) project is being led by the University of Derby in collaboration with the Multi-Faith Centre, Community Action Derby, Inspirative Arts, and Talk for Health.

The research project, which aims to ensure more inclusivity in social prescribing by sharing skills and knowledge between experienced practitioners and trainees from ethnic minority communities, is one of 12 to receive funding from the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), as part of a programme to level up health and wellbeing across the UK.

The SP4ALL project is recruiting individuals from a range of faith communities and diverse backgrounds to undertake practitioner training, which runs until June 15, 2022.

Professor David Sheffield, Professor of Psychology at the University of Derby, said: “Given the much worse life expectancy and overall health reported in people from ethnic minority groups, there is a need to develop strategies for inclusivity to mitigate the health inequalities experienced by people from ethnic minority groups.

“Social prescribing enables GPs, nurses and other primary care professionals to refer people to a range of local, non-clinical services to support their health and wellbeing. However, people from ethnic minorities are severely underrepresented in creative and nature-based social prescribing programmes both as providers and recipients.

“Our objective is to create practitioner training for people from ethnic minority groups and cultural competence training for practitioners to learn together by building on existing social prescribing networks and therapeutic training with our partners.”

Piloting the work will enable the researchers to develop a handbook of good practice, which will also be presented at a virtual conference.

Sarah Paine, Midlands Regional Lead for Thriving Communities - Community Action, Derby, added: “Community Action Derby is passionate about opportunities that involve and engage all of our diverse communities. We aspire through the Social Prescribing for All project to link community activists with a stepping stone to personal and career development opportunities that they might not otherwise have considered. Our aim is to enable them to gain life-changing skills for themselves, which also benefit their wider communities.”

Geoff Sweeney, Director of the Multi-Faith Centre, which is based at the University of Derby’s Kedleston Road site, said: “The Multi-Faith Centre is excited to be part of the SP4ALL project. The talents, expertise and enthusiasm of our region’s ethnic minority and diverse faith communities have a valuable role to play in improving health and wellbeing and addressing health inequalities.

“We look forward to playing our part in improving access, engagement and representation to social prescribing in arts, health and wellbeing.”

Philippa Buchanan, Director – Inspirative Arts, added: “Inspirative Arts is delighted to be participating in this project with the University. We, along with colleagues across the country, undertook an exploration of diversity in our sector in response to Black Lives Matter in 2021. We feel it is vitally important that the arts for health and wellbeing sector fully represents the communities we serve, and we welcome this opportunity to learn and expand our sector, broadening our reach and supporting the professional development of a more diverse range of practitioners in arts for health and wellbeing.”

Professor Helen Chatterjee, AHRC’s Health Disparities Programme Director, added: “The Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted stark health disparities across the UK. Access to local cultural activities and natural spaces can play an important role in health and wellbeing.

“This programme takes a place-based approach to public health, exploring new avenues to tackle health disparities across the country.

“By connecting research directly with decision making at local, regional and national levels, we hope to build a new scalable model that leads to healthier communities across the whole of the UK.”

The project is an opportunity is for:

To join the SP4ALL programme, please contact Dr Yoon Irons, Post Doctoral Research Fellow in Arts in Health at the University of Derby, on

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