VCH’s Together Better service expands to whole of City and Hackney
Today, Volunteer Centre Hackney (VCH) is announcing that our Together Better service, which delivers free volunteer-led activities in GP surgeries, is now available to every resident registered at a City or Hackney GP.
Lauren, VCH’s CEO, says: ‘Huge numbers of Hackney residents are struggling with social isolation and poor mental health, and are not solely in need of medical services. They need social contact. This includes patients described as “frequent attendees” – the 7% of patients who use 30-40% of a surgery’s services. That’s where Together Better comes in. By delivering volunteer-led activities in local GP surgeries, Together Better provides a grassroots antidote to the increasing strains on local surgeries, and empowers local residents to improve their wellbeing.’
How does Together Better work?
VCH’s Together Better team partners with local surgeries to support patients to lead their own activities. The activities tap into skills, interests and needs of a local community. In turn, they reduce demands on local health services, increase staffing capacity and morale, build vital community connections, and improve mental and physical health. Some of the activities that have run so far have included art groups, exercise groups, mental health support groups, gardening, and board games.
Here’s what GPs’ have to say about partnering with us:
‘Together Better has revolutionised the patient experience here at Richmond Road. From coffee catch-up, to crafts, to sound meditation – it has helped to support social connectedness and reduce levels of isolation.’
Dr Gopal Mehta: GP Partner at Richmond Road Medical Centre, Sandringham Practice, Aldersbrook Medical Centre; Clinical Director of London Fields Primary Care Network; GP Confederation GP Lead for South West of Hackney & The City of London.
‘We cannot imagine being without it. Together Better has helped staff forge stronger ties with the community. Individuals gain new skills, valuable experience, expanded networks, and personal growth. With volunteers’ help, we are able to offer additional services. This can result in improved access to support services and a more comprehensive healthcare experience for patients. It is important that it continues.’
Agnieszka Polej, Spring Hill Practice Manager
‘Many of the issues presented in the doctor’s room are linked to a person’s sense of belonging and wellbeing. Together Better has significant impact on the social isolation of many patients, reducing their attendance to see doctors. Together Better adds a whole new dynamic to preventative health services. It should not be seen as an add-on but something that can become central to the Practice.’
Kevin Belcher, Practice Manager at Elsdale Street Surgery
What do patients say about Together Better’s activities?
‘My visits to the doctor and my GP reduced because of Together Better. I’ve done several therapies, but Together Better has really helped me more.’
Together Better participant
‘Volunteering with Together Better has completely changed my life. It’s a dream come true for me being able to help my community. My mood is improving, I am feeling much happier now. I have met new people, my confidence is improving, my overall health and wellbeing have improved massively.’
Paul Fosu, Together Better volunteer
For more information, contact Together Better’s Programme Manager, Claire Ferrigi (details below).