Social Prescribing and Sheds

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    Laura Winkley

    Social Prescribing is described by the NHS as ‘a means of enabling GPs and other frontline healthcare professionals to refer people to ‘services’ in their community instead of offering only medicalised solutions.’ (
    What experiences do Sheds have of getting involved with local health services? Have you had positive or negative experiences about getting involved with local health services? What reservations do Sheds have? We’d like to hear your thoughts on this topic.


    Hi Laura, I have perhaps a lead in to my GP Practice as I am a very active member of their Patient Participation Group. As part of our regular six-weekly PPG meetings, we now have a standard agenda item covering Men in Sheds West Bletchley’s activities where I provide an update on what we are doing, and what we plan to do. In addition, I regular contribute articles for the Practice newsletter, and we also now have a strap-line banner advertisement on the waiting room visual display so what we do is well known within the Practice and is supported wholeheartedly by the GPs and Practice Manager.

    In addition and outside of Men in Sheds, I am currently editing a “social prescribing” directory which lists all voluntary bodies in the Westbrook, Shenley Church End and West Bletchley areas of the wider Milton Keynes conurbation. This will be held on the Practice IT system as a fully searchable Excel spreadsheet which the GP can tailor to each patient during the consultation and “socially prescribe”. Men in Sheds is part of that with me as the contact.

    I have also through my PPG work, promoted the benefits of the Shed Movement more widely to the local Clinical Commissioning Group and a direct result of that is that I have a sympathetic ear in my Shed’s search for larger premises so if necessary, I could call upon contacts within the CCG to provide verbal backing to what we seek to achieve.

    It is not an instant ‘hit’ that will produce quick results, but something that requires dedication and patience. You often find yourself starting at first base to explain what Men’s Sheds are, and it is quite helpful to be able to have some sort of locally-based handout which gives a flavour of what we do. A newsletter is ideal for that if you have one, but given that I have a finite amount of time and have other interests, it is sometimes difficult to have something to hand which is up to date and relevant.

    One reservation which I have personally, and I stress it is personal, is we mostly do not have any medical training in how to manage requests to admit those who experience difficulties such as speech loss as a result of stroke or whose disability causes difficulties in adapting the Shed environment to meet those needs. We need to reach out to those people, but lack the experience and/or training to do so.

    Hopefully that is concise enough but happy to take this offline in more detail if necessary.

    With best wishes, Paul

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