Social Prescribing Day - 9 March 2023

March 6, 2023

Social Prescribing Day is an annual celebration of social prescribing, recognising link workers, local community groups and regional and national organisations which support people’s health and wellbeing.

 This year Social Prescribing Day is on Thursday 9th March. Active Cumbria are supporting Social Prescribing Day sharing just some of valuable work which is ongoing around Cumbria.  

Social prescribing is a way of actively connecting people to activities, groups and services that can improve their health and wellbeing.
For example, people may visit their GP because they may be feeling stressed about their work, money, or because they are lonely and isolated. But these problems cannot be fixed by medicine, or doctors, alone.

Social prescribing links people to a range of activities and services, based on their situation and preferences.
This could include, for example, volunteering, arts activities, gardening, befriending, advice on debt or finances, and a range of physical activity sports.

Social prescribing in action!

Jenny Riley, ICC Development Lead for Millom & Mid Furness shares the story of The Big Baggy T-Shirt Club

Millom ICC: The Big Baggy T-Shirt Club

How dd it start?

I was at a CCC Healthy Weight seminar and people were discussing what we could offer overweight and obese people. The same old outcomes were being suggested such as referrals to a slimming club, offer of free cycling, discounted gym membership etc. I myself am 24 stone and I just thought, I would do none of these if my GP suggested them because I have no confidence to walk into a gym as I would simply get laughed at, I am too unfit for a Zumba class and I can’t do yoga as I can’t get up and down due to my size. To be honest, you get enough scathing comments being this size as it is.

I thought about all the clubs there are for different age groups such as the over 70’s, over 55’s, under 18’s etc but there are no groups for larger people where they can exercise with their peers without prejudice. I contacted a colleague called Marion Giles (a qualified fitness instructor who works at Millom Recreational Centre) and shared the concept and “The Big Baggy T-Shirt Club” was born. Due to my size I was an ideal candidate for this so I am now an Ambassador for the project and drive a 50 mile round trip every Friday to partake in it.

I used a local printing firm to make us matching T-Shirts and water bottles with the logo on and this is given out for free on the first session so that everyone feels part of the Club.

Who is it aimed at?

It is exclusively aimed at people with a high BMI and are overweight. People who have lost their confidence due to weight gain and want to improve their general health & wellbeing. Everybody is welcome and the exercise session is very low impact so everyone can do the full 45 minutes.

How is it currently going?

We had 5 people on our opening session, the second week had grown to 12 and 8 in week 3 which is fantastic! We have had some amazing comments on Facebook and people were asking on Friday how they could book a month’s block in advance.

It has been spreading far and wide and I even did an interview with Simon Yaxley on BBC Radio Cumbria at the end of September. Other ICCs have asked if they can roll it out after our 6 week pilot is completed.

We have also had some fantastic comments from Richard Metcalfe from Active Cumbria:

“Brilliant – Millom and Jenny Riley leading the way, again!!!!” 

“Wow, that’s brilliant, well done to you and everyone else. 

If there anything you need just ask. Brilliant – love it!!!!”

“Do you mind if I share, we could do with a load more of these”

What can people expect?

Marion has set up a nice low impact cardio and aerobic programme where we can all keep up and not feel embarrassed that we are out of breath at the back. There is a lot of camaraderie with people of all shapes and sizes just chattering away – it really is a fantastic atmosphere.

Everybody who joins gets a free t-shirt and water bottle so we feel part of the Club and everyone always wears it – even our first man who came last week wore the bright pink T-Shirt to fit in!

How can people get involved?.

You can book online at the Millom Recreational Centre webpage. The sessions are every Friday from 4 – 4.45pm and it costs £1. You can also pay cash and book block sessions in advance at the front desk.