Tracy Tundervary and Rahana Begum are social prescribing link workers who now have a nationally recognised qualification that allows them to give information about benefits and housing and debt, including utility arrears, without having to always make an onward referral to an advice provider, thereby cutting wait times for some of our clients.
Bromley by Bow Insights teamed up with Island Advice Centre to train a cohort of London social prescribing link workers, with support from the Mayor of London's office, to help reduce the strain on local services and offer another way to offer patient .
Long waits for benefits advice
Up to 80% of patients in London referred to Social Prescribing need advice on housing, welfare benefits, debt and food/fuel poverty, but advice services are already stretched to breaking point.
In Tower Hamlets, 60% of referrals to advice providers come from social prescribing link workers, and waiting lists are often over a month, with some patients missing key deadlines.
Supporting clients and career development
With the support from their manager, Tracy and Rahana studied the course and completed placements with local welfare advice providers, gaining practical experience with giving advice to clients. The training also supports career development for both social prescribers.
Tracey said: “When I was offered to apply for the Level 3 NVQ Advice and guidance course, I jumped at the chance. Before this, all I could do was signpost people to services. It’s so much better being able to offer my clients advice and guidance rather than them having to wait on long waiting lists, which has negative impacts on their mental health.
Rahana added: “I’m grateful to the Mayor of London, the Bromley by Bow Insights team and the Island Advice Centre for their support. Now, I can do more than refer people to other services. I can provide the right advice and support around housing and welfare and help more people than I could before.”