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The social prescribing programme of work commenced December 2017 with a £10k grant from Wales School for Social Care Research. The aim was to set up the Wales Social Prescribing Research Network (WSPRN) and start to build the evidence base for social prescribing in Wales. It is co-chaired by Prof Carolyn Wallace (USW/PRIME) & Dr Sally Rees (WCVA). It is a cross agency/multi-professional group. The research network has 296 members, of which a steering group of 20 are research active. It supports three communities of practice in north, west and south east Wales and uses a translational model of research.

In 2018 it conducted two All Wales consensus events. In May 2018 in Cardiff it agreed and set its social prescribing (SP) research priorities for Wales. In October 2018, it agreed an outcomes framework. What has become apparent is that Wales (similar to Ireland and Scotland) has multiple models of SP which include community development/ community navigators, wellbeing centres, Link workers in primary care and self-referral. The third sector is the dominant provider of SP in Wales as opposed to the NHS in England.

Since it’s launch in 2018, grants totalling over £1 million have been secured as a result of this work. These include:

  • SPRING (Social Prescribing in Mental Health) a mixed-methods evaluation of a brief social prescribing intervention for people with low-moderate mental health issues with Mind Cymru (Prof. Mark Llewellyn lead)
  • PROSPECT (Improving Mental Health through Social Prescribing) a mixed-methods evaluation of an intensive social prescribing intervention for people with low-moderate mental health issues and frequent attenders in primary and secondary care with British Red Cross (Prof. Mark Llewellyn lead)
  • HCRW Pathway to Portfolio (Dr Sally Rees lead). A consensus workshop to identify key priorities for ‘creating sustainable community assets/social capital within the context of social prescribing’. Workshop findings will lead to the development and submission of one large grant application and 1-2 smaller grant applications.
  • Health Education and Improvement Wales - SP learning needs for Wales (Prof Carolyn Wallace lead). A Group Concept Mapping study which identified important learning needs which were available and not available, and important, along a timeline from pre-induction to 1 year and ongoing.
  • RESPECT (Realist evaluation of social prescribing with time credits) – research collaboration between Cardiff University, Leicester University and Bangor University. (Dr Mary Lynch co-applicant, Prof Carolyn Wallace as steering group expert advisor).
  • Enhancing Student Wellbeing through Social Prescribing (Wrexham GlyndŵrUniversity lead) – collaboration between Wrexham Glyndŵr University and University of South Wales to develop a social prescribing intervention for higher education students & evaluate this using a realist evaluation design.

Find out more about current projects here

KESS funded PhD and MRES students:

  • Tom Roberts (PhD at University of South Wales) - Cwm Taf Morgannwg UHB, commenced Jan 2019. Study focus on the role of the link worker.
  • Susan Beese (PhD at University of South Wales) - RCT Interlink, Commenced Jan 2019. Realist Evaluation of SP community assets.
  • Leanne Hadley (MRES at University of South Wales) – The Madeline Project and Cardiff & Vale UHB, Commenced April 2019. What matters to me when I’m paying for care - developing a person centred model of communicating information about social and NHS funded care.
  • Abraham Makanjuola (MRES at Bangor University) – An evaluation study to investigate recruitment information into social prescribing interventions and explore the skills sets of link workers in dealing with complex case referrals.
  • MRES at Bangor University, commencing April 2020 – Developing a theory of change for a complex programme; a systematic framework for ensuring delivery of outcomes in a new Wellbeing Hub in Nantlle Valley.
  • MRES at Bangor University, commencing April 2020 – Developing a conversation about identifying community needs to embrace well-being through social prescribing interventions.


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