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London Borough of Barking and Dagenham: Linking social prescribing to social welfare

Social prescribing is delivered in Barking and Dagenham as a service embedded within the local authority, working in partnership with other statutory services within the council.


Social prescribing is delivered in Barking and Dagenham as a service embedded within the local authority, with link workers working in close partnership with other statutory services within the council. Link workers act as ‘relationship managers’, with each allocated to one primary care network so that they are closely connected with clinical services and practice teams.

The Homes and Money Hub (HaMH) also sits within the local authority and supports residents with issues relating to housing and money issues. The team work closely with colleagues in other council teams for fast resolution of issues.

The approach

The two teams work closely together to ensure smooth client journeys from social prescribing to social welfare advice. Some key elements of the approach are as follows.

Cross‐team collaboration

Within the council and these two teams in particular, collaboration is a key part of ensuring services work effectively. Training is provided by the HaMH to equip link workers with the skills needed to address low‐level issues that don’t need to be held as cases by the hub and day‐to‐day collaborative working also helps to build skills and knowledge.

Meanwhile, the interconnection between the HaMH and other council teams such as housing and housing benefit means that issues can often be resolved rapidly through access to resident records which enables fast identification of issues, and the best ways of resolving them. Both teams also work closely with other teams such as the Job Shop to maximise income, as well as to community projects to combat social isolation and children’s services for support for families.

Multi‐agency working

Collaborative working isn’t limited to teams within the council, with broader partnerships enabling effective resolution of issues clients are facing. DWP staff are embedded within the HaMH, meaning that Universal Credit issues can be resolved quickly, and there is also a close partnership with Citizens Advice Barking and Dagenham who take onward referrals for complex benefit appeal and housing cases, as well as areas not covered by HaMH such as immigration. Case reviews are held weekly, using robust data sharing protocols, with representatives from multiple organisations including Citizens Advice, the Independent Living Agency who provide support to disabled residents to work together to resolve complex cases, including those who may not fully engage with support.

Driven by data

Both teams record significant amounts of data as a matter of course in their work and are able to track journeys of residents through their systems, with both the social prescribing team able to track numbers and categories or referrals, and the HaMH being able to disaggregate the cases referred from social prescribing using a reporting button in their case management system. Outcomes including sustained tenancies, improved financial stability and maximised income are also recorded to show the impact of engagement with the services, with illustrative customer journeys produced to demonstrate how a range of issues can be resolved by teams working together.

When social prescribing began in December 2019, there were 11 referrals to the HaMH during the month. This has risen substantially to 26‐27 in recent months. At the same time, the Hub has seen a significant increase in direct contacts from residents, as their phoneline, previously a secondary service primarily for existing cases, has been in the public domain, receiving 6,188 calls since from 6 April 2020 to 19 March 2021.

It doesn’t feel like lots of different teams, we’re all pulling together in the same direction to get the best outcome for residents.

Jacquie Hutchinson, Service Manager

The benefits

The key benefits of the approach have been that:

  • through collaborative working between teams and organisations, residents are able to see their issues resolved quickly and without the need to be bounced around between too many services
  • services have access to high‐quality information on service demand and impact with reports being easily generated.

The challenge

The key challenges in this area are primarily external, with ongoing challenges in relation to capacity for the HaMH to address the extent of difficulty being faced by residents. During the pandemic the team has been expanded with 31 additional staff being redeployed to the Hub to meet increased demand. However there is significant concern that as the furlough scheme and moratorium on evictions come to an end, at a similar time to planned reductions in funds available for local authorities to support residents directly e.g. through Discretionary Housing Payments, there may be a further significant increase in demand.

The outcome

The approach is viewed as having been hugely beneficial by both the social prescribing team and the HaMH. By taking a ‘one team’ approach to the challenges faced by residents, Barking and Dagenham has been able to increase the volume of people supported and generate and demonstrate the outcomes and impact it is able to achieve for them.



Jacquie Hutchinson, Service Manager, Community Solutions