The Recovery Republic (RR) had already in existence 5 years, countering some areas of deficiency in the great statutory services of health and care when in 2016 the newly created Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) published the document of intentions “Taking Charge”. 

In its foreword Peter Smith, the Chair of GMCA wrote:

“On 1st April 2016 Greater Manchester took charge of the £6billion spent on health and social care in our 10 boroughs, following the devolution deal with the government. We were also given extra £450 million to help transform services.

Our focus must be on our people and our places, not organisations. There will be a responsibility for everyone to work together, from individuals, families and communities as well as the approximately 100,000 staff working in the NHS and social care, to the voluntary sector and the public bodies.”

Recognising that people’s health is determined primarily by a range of social, economic and environmental factors, social prescribing sometimes referred to as community referral, seeks to address people’s needs in a whole person way. It also aims to support individuals to take greater control of their own health.

In formalising the activities and services to provide SP at the RR we followed the categories of the North Manchester commissioners, which fit the GM Population Health Plan 2017 – 2021. These are:

  • Emotional wellbeing,
  • Money management,
  • Housing,
  • Employment,
  • Lifestyle behaviour change,
  • Smoking Cessation,
  • Work related health support.

Of these seven four were being provided by July 2017 and six by September 2017.   Work related health support, which is a priority in the GM Population Health Plan remained to be developed.   However, following a successful bid to the Workers Education Association (WEA) the RR developed such a course entitled “Early Steps to Opportunity”.   Then the Covid pandemic got in the way of delivery so the course was made virtual and taken online, renamed “Flourishing.” which has been a great success.

The RR looks to provide activities and or services to address all of the areas of Social Prescribing therefore obviating the customary use of link-workers who we are learning to work with in novel and interesting ways.    Walk-ins, are equally frequent as referrals and increasing both in number and as a percentage.

As community-centred ways of working are known to be more effective than traditional services in improving the health and wellbeing of marginalised groups and vulnerable individuals, we look to prove for this reason that the RR is essential in reducing health inequalities within Heywood, and thereby receive the support we believe it deserves from local and regional Government.