The North West Social Prescribing Network (NW SP Network) is part of a national network which is supported by NHS England and coordinated by the University of Westminster. In the North West it is hosted by VSNW and co-chaired by Jo Ward, Changemaker, and Warren Escadale, Chief Executive of VSNW.

Our core objective is to be at the forefront in social prescribing and we aim to:

  • Engage and support health and social care leaders and decision-makers
  • Develop the evidence base for excellence in social prescribing
  • Build stronger working relationships between acute, primary, community and social care and effective, sustainable, local community action


We have developed a set of resources. There is also an excellent article from healthcare charity The King's Fund, 'What is social prescribing', which succinctly explains the term.


Different potential sources of support for referrals

Different potential sources of support for referrals

Social prescribing interventions often include the following:

  • Condition management programmes (providing support in areas such as education, pain management, exercise, emotional support, self-help groups)
  • Health and well-being activities (interactive craft groups, music groups, community gardening etc.)
  • Access to employment, education or community participation (e.g. group work, social activities, training, etc.) 
  • Emotional and practical support (through peer mentoring, befriending, dementia cafes, etc.)
  • Specific support for carers (such as short breaks, emotional support, advice and guidance, etc.)
  • Volunteering opportunities(as peer mentors, befrienders) 


We are particularly interested in public sector leaders and decision-makers (from organisations such as the NHS, CCGs and councils), local Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise (VCSE) strategic leads and those running or playing a lead role in social prescribing schemes operating in the North West. Plus anyone who is advancing the evidence base for excellence in social prescribing.

To become a member or discuss being a member please contact Jo Ward by email: or telephone: 07708 428096, or you can sign-up here on the VSNW SP Network registration page.


We have two initial ‘calls to action’ for our NW SP Network members.

Firstly, we want to emphasise the importance of a ‘vibrant community’ in social prescribing. Social prescribing will be successful if it is supported by its community. And we need to understand how to drive forward this work, in particular through local voluntary, community, faith and social enterprise (VCSE) activity.

Aligned to this, we need a clearer understanding of how we include the VCSE sector, support the right investment frameworks, and develop a social prescribing agenda that drives not only new models of care (where there's a shift in control to the public) but that also supports an effective population health agenda capable of articulating its merits to emerging Integrated Care Systems in the North West.

Secondly, we plan to adopt a regional commitment to deliver the first free social prescription to support maternal well-being and the best start in life for a child. This should engage non-healthcare sector partners in a social prescribing conversation that cuts across policy silos and draws collaborators in from across the nation. It also provides a link to a potential wider conversation with the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Arts, Health and Wellbeing about alignment with their national recommendations.

Further Links

·         National Network

·         NW SP Conference 2017: presentations

·         NW SP Conference 2017: report (launched in Parliament)

·         Social Prescribing Resources

·         Biographies for Jo Ward and Warren Escadale