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Supporting local people to get active through social prescribing

Date: 14 March 2024

In observance of Social Prescribing Day (14 March), local charity Ruils Independent Living talks about their work to connect people with disabilities and and long term health conditions with activities in their communities, as well as partnering with us to launch the new Get Me Active Fund. 

Ruils is a user-led charity supporting disabled children and adults and people with long term health and mental health conditions to live independently and be part of their community. In partnership with the Richmond GP Alliance, Public Health Richmond and six Patient Care Networks (PCNs), Ruils has delivered social prescribing across Richmond since 2020.

Social prescribing link workers use a holistic approach to assess social needs and coproduce personalised action plans based on what matters to patients. The team uses motivational interviewing and health coaching skills to encourage clients to be more independent and active within their community.

The team consists of 17 link workers who work with clients across Richmond Borough. On average, the team receives 350 referrals a month on a broad range of issues including:

  • Social isolation
  • Mental health and wellbeing
  • Benefits and financial support
  • Increasing physical activity
  • Managing stress

Recently, there has been a bigger focus on supporting clients to get more physically active. Through linking clients to appropriate classes in the community, helping them to access a gym for the first time or working with them come up with a plan, link workers support clients to set and achieve their goals. 

In partnership with the Council, Ruils recently launched the Get Me Active fund, which aims to break down access barriers for clients who may need financial support to get the right equipment or pay for an exercise class. Social prescribing clients who are currently using the service can access the fund. 

Link workers also refer clients to services in the community that may help them get more active, through Joy, a database that holds information about available services across Richmond. Joy is completely free to use and anyone can make an account and search for services they might want to access. 

The impact of social prescribing is far reaching. For clients, support from a link worker can transform their life. From resolving issues, overcoming challenges, connecting with others to taking control of their health and wellbeing – the whole process is led by and for them. For the community, we are seeing increased uptake in local services, a more connected voluntary sector and increased collaboration between statutory and voluntary organisations. 

Callum Harvey, Social Prescribing and Community Development Manager says “Our goal is to help improve the client’s situation, whatever it may be, and to really listen to what their needs are. We want them to feel that they have been understood and given all the tools that they need for success.”

The social prescribing service is available for anyone who may need it. Richmond residents can find out more about the service on the Ruils website, or can speak with their GP for a referral. 

Any questions can be directed to the team by emailing or calling 020 8831 6083.

The Council's recently launched Richmond Moves campaign helps residents discover local resources and exciting activities to help them on their journey to moving more, every day, in their own way. 

You can receive free weekly emails with local information to help you on your journey, tailored to your needs and activity level. Subscribe to Richmond Moves emails.

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Updated: 14 March 2024