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It's International Social Prescribing Day but if you haven't a clue what social prescribing is about, you've come to the right place.

Many people go to their GPs with issues that can’t be fixed by medicines, such as social or emotional needs.

Social prescribing is a way for doctors and other healthcare professionals to refer patients to a link worker who can help them find non-clinical solutions that will help improve their health and wellbeing.

For example, art classes. The link worker will work with the patient to help them find their own personalised solutions, solutions often offered by the voluntary and community sector.

Today is an international day of celebration for all things related to social prescribing, highlighting why it’s a big deal in the healthcare sector and the impact it can have. There’ll be events across the country, supported by the NHS and the Royal College of GPs among others, and a lot of buzz on social media - #SocialPrescribingDay

Sounds like social prescribing is definitely a thing?

You bet and you’re probably going to hear amore about it as 2019 is the year of social prescribing. The NHS recently published a long-term plan that put a lot of emphasis on developing social prescribing services, with a promise to support at least 900,000 people so they can benefit from social prescribing by 2023. And obviously this will help ease the pressure on GPs.

Nice one, I’ll book an appointment with my link worker at the surgery.

Well you can try but you might find they’re not ready yet. Another part of the NHS plan is to recruit 1,000 social prescribing link workers by April 2021.

So, what’s social prescribing got to do with gardening?

Gardening is a wonderfully holistic activity that can help with mental health, physical health and social engagement for men and women of all ages.

Thrive has been using gardening therapeutically for 40 years and we know that gardening can be used in many ways to help restore us to good health, but social prescribing is barely scratching the surface of what it could achieve.

For example, someone with mild anxiety or depression may find that being referred to a community-based gardening club is just the ticket in terms of reducing stress by being in the natural environment and helping them reengage with people.

Is Thrive involved in social prescribing?

We’d certainly would like to get more referrals from GPs but sadly so far funding has been lacking to enable them to do this which is a shame as social prescribing offers an opportunity to have a great impact on people’s lives and save the NHS a great deal of money.

Our therapeutic gardening programmes are structured and led by trained horticultural therapists and therefore would be beneficial for people with more acute health care needs. The skill of the practitioner is in identifying the right activities and using their knowledge of horticulture to adapt the activity, the environment or the tools to achieve a specific outcome.

We’re working hard to get Social and Therapeutic Horticulture on the radar of healthcare professionals and social prescribers because we want to see health and gardening come closer together.

How can I find out if coming to Thrive is an option for me?

Get in touch by sending an email to

Do you offer courses where I can learn more about the health benefits of gardening and being in nature?

Yes, including one that's called What is Green Care? Have a look here.

As today is an international celebration of social prescribing will there be cake?

You’ll need to contact your local baker about that but if you do consume, don’t forget to go for a walk around the garden to burn off those calories.

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