Go ahead given for exclusive health project in Haverhill

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Exciting plans for a new health project exclusive to Haverhill have been given the green light thanks to more than £130,000 funding from central government and Suffolk County Council.

The Haverhill LifeLink project, run by ONE Haverhill Partnership, will start being rolled out this summer to combat some of the pressure on GP services in the town – including the high percentage of appointments which are for social needs rather than medical.

The two-year pilot has been made possible thanks to a £69,000 grant from Suffolk County Council and a £63,768 grant from the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) to St Edmundsbury Borough Council, who are partners in the innovative project.

The six-figure sum will see two LifeLink Coordinators employed to signpost between identified patients and the vast amount of vibrant community groups and activities in Haverhill.

The ‘social prescribing’ project builds on ONE Haverhill Partnership’s priority to improve health and access to health services in the town.

Welcoming the news, John Mayhew, chair of ONE Haverhill Partnership, said: “We are delighted that this new Haverhill health project has been supported so generously by the Department for Communities and Local Government and Suffolk County Council.

“Health remains, and will always be, a key priority for ONE Haverhill Partnership and this initiative is a great example of our partners working together to produce a direct result that benefits local residents.

“I would like to thank the officers at St Edmundsbury Borough Council who have worked tirelessly to get this project off the ground as well as everyone who has supported it so far.

“Haverhill is rightly proud of the wealth of community groups and volunteer spirit that runs throughout the town and I am sure they will embrace this exciting project going forward.”

Lauren White-Miller, a Families and Communities Officer at St Edmundsbury said: “Haverhill LifeLink will focus on how people feel and their journey of improved wellbeing. Referrals will come from GPs, hospitals, Suffolk County Council and from within the community.

“Individuals being referred may be socially isolated, dealing with debt management, experiencing low mood or anxiety or may just want to be more involved in what is going on within Haverhill.

“It is believed that a fifth of visits to the GP are for social issues, which could be supported within the local community. Haverhill has a wealth of activities and community groups that would be able to support and would mean that people are getting help from within the community of Haverhill.”

The project is being shaped by more than 40 partners including members of the community, working alongside the Borough Council and ONE Haverhill Partnership. These partners include West Suffolk Clinical Commissioning Group (WSCCG) which is a GP membership organisation, GPs in the town, Suffolk County Council, West Suffolk Hospital, voluntary and community services, Haverhill Town Council, Abbeycroft Leisure and St Nicholas Hospice Care and other agencies.

St Edmundsbury hopes to start recruiting for the two Haverhill LifeLink Coordinators next month with a view to launching the pilot scheme in the summer.

If you would like to know any more about the Haverhill Lifelink scheme, please contact Lauren White-Miller on 07946 293561 or Lauren.White-Miller@westsuffolk.gov.uk.

The social prescribing pilot scheme is just one example of how communities and authorities including St Edmundsbury Borough Council and Forest Heath District Council (West Suffolk councils) are working together as part of the work of the Councils’ Families and Communities team. For more on the work of the team visit http://www.westsuffolk.gov.uk/community/howwecanhelp.cfm.