Trade for prosperity

Pharmacies are rightly associated with medicines expertise, but they also provide a range of support that is not directly related to medicines. Some are deeply involved in community and social activities that underpin people’s health and wellbeing.


One somewhat unusual example is Greenlight Pharmacy in central London, which helps organise walks for pharmacy patients and people referred by local charities.


The walks offer a safe space for people from different backgrounds to socialise and be together in nature.


It all began out of the tragedy of several of the pharmacy’s elderly patients all becoming widowers at a similar time. Women’s life expectancy is higher, but their social networks often shrink, impacting on their mental and physical health.


The pharmacy wanted to help these women establish new support networks, and trained one of its staff as a walk leader and took the group for walks around nearby Regent’s Park.


Twenty years later the walks are thriving, and helping to establish new friendships and support networks, as well as providing regular exercise for the participants.


Source: Tamsin Youngson, London City Hall Blog 2023



What is ‘social prescribing’?

According to the NHS website, social prescribing is an approach that connects people to activities, groups, and services in their community, to meet the practical, social and emotional needs that affect their health and wellbeing.

In social prescribing, local agencies such as charities, social care and health services refer people to a social prescribing link worker. Social prescribing link workers give people time, focusing on ‘what matters to me?’ to jointly prepare a personalised care plan.


Social prescribing can be for anyone, but works particularly well for people who:


  • have one or more long term conditions
  • who need support with low level mental health issues
  • who are lonely or isolated
  • who have complex social needs which affect their wellbeing.


Social prescribing complements other approaches in a local area such as active signposting, where existing staff in local agencies signpost people to services, using local knowledge and resource directories.