Social prescribers help thousands to get better

Social prescribers in Derby and Derbyshire supported thousands of people to improve their health and wellbeing over the past year.

All GP practices have a social prescriber – who is there to support people through non-clinical ways, often by connecting them with local community activities and services.

Data for the 12 months of 2023 in Derbyshire held by the Joy case management system shows:

  • 11,645 people have been supported by social prescribers
  • People supported had nine fewer appointments at their GP practice, compared to their previous attendance
  • 76% of people supported said their wellbeing had improved
  • 661 community and voluntary sector services were used by people as a result of being referred by a social prescriber

Social prescribers often encourage people referred to them to take part in social events such as coffee mornings, walking groups or gardening groups.

This social interaction helps people to manage their health conditions and reduces the demand on GP services, says Sean Hedley, lead social prescriber with Greater Derby Primary Care Network.

He said: “Patients are referred to us by the GP and we can support with issues that are non-clinical. It may be loneliness, isolation or issues such as housing or finances.

“We can support them in managing and resolving those issues, which in turn supports their health and wellbeing.”

Sean’s colleague Jane Lindsay organises a weekly coffee morning at the Nag’s Head pub in Mickleover. It is attended by many widowed men and women who have found themselves lonely, and by people who benefit from the chance to meet friends and chat.

Jane said: “People are often very anxious but I’ll support them to come in. I’ve got people that come here that wouldn’t dare walk in here six months ago, and now they’re going out with groups of friends and they’ve got a life again. The difference is phenomenal.”

Read and listen to the stories of people who attend the Nag’s Head coffee morning.



George struggled after his wife of more than 65 years died in 2022, leaving him alone for the first time since being a teenager. He said:

“Val and I met when she was 16 and I was 18. We shared everything – we were very close and it was a big blow when she was gone.

“I got depressed, I had some bad thoughts and it was a very difficult time.

“I got a phone call from Sean and he said I’d like you to meet my colleague Jane. They came to see me at home and asked if I would like to come to a meeting with people like me in Mickleover.

“I went and people were so welcoming to me. It has given me something to look forward to on a Wednesday morning. It has filled that loneliness in my life.”


Carole finds her health issues sometimes limit what she can do, but since joining the regular coffee mornings at the Nag’s Head she finds the motivation to meet with friends. She said:

“Some days I can’t get out of bed, but by coming here I have something to look forward to. The people I have made friends with here are lovely.

“Stepping through the door was one of the hardest things to do. But I did it and it has made me really happy, it has made a big difference.”


Sarah says she knew she needed help after moving to Derby from the United States following a relationship breakup. She said:

“I saw a note in my GP’s and I decided to come. I felt very much alone, coming from a situation in America that was not good to start afresh and not knowing how to do that. I knew I needed help. I was able to talk to Jane one on one – the GP can’t do that. It got me on my feet and involved with other things. And it’s done the same for many people here.”

  • The social prescribing service is available through referral from your GP.