24th July 2021

Somerset charities secure funding to help local communities thrive

A group of local charities are delighted to announce their success in securing almost £50,000 to boost
community-based activities that benefit people’s health & wellbeing.

Take Art, Somerset Wildlife Trust and Spark Somerset are working together on the project which aims to
strengthen and expand the range of activities offered, including creative and nature-based sessions and
groups, by setting up a new partnership of organisations from a wide range of sectors.

These activities will form part of ‘Social Prescribing’, a national initiative where people are supported to
engage in local community-based activities & services that can improve their health, such as peer support groups, physical activities, social groups, debt advice services and volunteering opportunities. This new partnership will support the development of new activities and work with existing groups to help them become more sustainable in the long term and better connected into the local health & care system.

The money from the Thriving Communities Fund will also support a number of activities specifically for
people most impacted by COVID-19. These include those with long term health conditions, Care Home staff, individuals with Long Covid and 18–35 year-olds who have had COVID and are at risk of, or been made,redundant.

Somerset County Council and Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group have also match-funded £5,000 each towards the project and been integral in its development. “This project offers a fantastic opportunity to bring many different sectors together, including the arts, to expand the Social Prescribing offer for the benefit of more people across Somerset,” comments Mark Helyar, Co-Director of Theatre, Take Art.

Examples of Social Prescribing include Word/Play, a project for people experiencing mental ill health. It
uses performance poetry to empower individuals, giving them the freedom and encouragement to tell their stories. It helps people build their confidence, develop skills, reduce feelings of isolation and find new ways to communicate in a safe and fun environment.”

“Word/Play has put me on the right path to being a whole human again.” Project participant.

Another example is Somerset Nature Connections which works with people to support their mental
wellbeing through nature connection, spending time in nature, learning about it, looking after it and
connecting with like-minded individuals.

“Being out in the fresh air gives you a different perspective on life. Having tasks to do helps you get outside of your head and into the world, communicating with like-minded people, whilst contributing something to the natural world”. Project participant.

Jolyon Chesworth, Engagement Manager for Somerset Wildlife Trust, says “Nature can have a very positive impact on our physical and mental wellbeing, just going for a walk in your local park or taking a moment to listen to the birds has been shown to improve mood and best of all it can be free. This project will encourage people to access the nature on their doorstep and beyond and enable them to feel the benefits as part of their everyday routine.”

Katherine Nolan, Chief Executive of Spark Somerset, added “We are lucky to have such a strong and thriving voluntary sector in Somerset, which is already having such a positive impact on our communities. Our team at Spark Somerset are delighted to be part of this project, so that we can provide vital support to community groups and charities involved in Social Prescribing, helping them to develop and grow.”

The Thriving Communities Fund is funded by the National Academy for Social Prescribing, Arts Council
England, Natural England and Historic England.

Activity providers do not need to contact the partners – sector partners will be in touch with suitable
providers in due course.