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PACT (Parents and Communities Together) is a Citizens UK project in Southwark that supports the well-being of parents and families so that they can thrive and give the best start in life to their young children. We are parent-led and work with a diverse community of families and seek to provide a social network for parents to learn together and support one another. Our work was evaluated by the Institute of Psychology and Psychiatry at Kings College London, and shown to significantly reduce social isolation and improve maternal mental health.
This short informal training session about Social Prescribing is delivered by PACT staff and local clinicians. It will include information about the social prescribing initiative in Southwark, details about what PACT (Parents and Communities Together) offers, testimony from parents who have benefitted from the project, and research findings regarding the impact of our work. It will last 1.5 hours from 18:00-19:30, including a 30 minute break for a food buffet and opportunity to network.
Many of the parents who are part of PACT found out about the project through sign-posting and social prescribing from health and social care professionals including health visitors, midwives and GPs. We want to be able to benefit many more parents and young children and want health and social care professionals to have the knowledge and confidence to tell their patients and clients about us and make social prescribing referrals to us.
"The aim of social prescribing is to help people live their lives as well as possible, with a focus on supporting them to take control of and to improve their health, wellbeing and social welfare. Social prescribing links people into personal networks as well as practical and emotional support within communities and the voluntary sector. This is often via their GP, nurse or other primary care professional." Definition of social prescribing as described by the Richmond Group of Charities.
Social prescribing has an important place in today's health care, as it can be a cost-efficient and very effective way of meeting people's needs and working to resolve difficulties which traditional healthcare services cannot easily deal with. Many patients in primary (and secondary) care have problems that health professionals cannot get to the root of on our own. GPs may prescribe medications for a chronic cough, whilst knowing that the underlying cause is a flat affected by damp that the council won't fix. GPs may prescribe anti-depressants, whilst knowing that their social isolation is a huge factor in their mental health. Health visitors provide advice on promoting child development whilst knowing that parents' skills are best supported in a supportive environment where play between parents and children can occur. Health care workers advise on healthy eating whilst knowing that dietary habits are complex and built up over time, and so are difficult to change in a consultation or two.
The different activities that PACT (Parents & Communities Together) offers which address these concerns include:
- A pre and postnatal parent university course (co-designed with parents and healthcare professionals)
- A baby bank - taking donations of baby items and giving them to struggling families.
- Parent and toddler/baby sessions including: [email protected] - a weekly group for parents with babies under12months, MumSpace - two weekly groups for all parents of children 0-3years, Espacio Mama - two weekly groups for Spanish speaking parents of children 0-3 years, Dadspace - a monthly group for local dads of young children.
- Parent coures and workshops
- Community organising training for parents so that they can participate in public life and take action on issues of concern
- Allotment for parents and their children to learn and take part in gardening
- We will also be launching a Family Food club to help tackle childhood obesity in the Autumn term.
- Family trips and activities to encourage parents to explore other environments both locally and further afield
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