Michelle Quinn, Social Prescribing Co-ordinator with Offaly Local Development Company, pictured at the recent Social Prescribing Day in Tullamore.

Social Prescribing day celebrated in Tullamore

To mark international Social Prescribing Day, Offaly Local Development Company recently hosted an event celebrating ‘Offaly Well Connected’ Social prescribing service.

Social Prescribing is an initiative which aims to reduce loneliness and social isolation by supporting people to connect with activities and resources within their community. As well as taking self- referrals, it provides health professionals with an option to offer non-medical sources of support within the local community to improve health and wellbeing.

Michelle Quinn, Social Prescribing Co-ordinator in Tullamore, welcomed everyone to the Tullamore event and introduced her colleague Aoife Kelly who has recently taken social prescribing in the Birr area one day a week.

Extensive international research has highlighted the significant impact loneliness and isolation can have on health. Social Prescribing works in conjunction with health services and community based services to increase the uptake of local supports.

PJ Brady, Noel McRedmond and Ray Murray at the Social Prescribing event

Social prescribing offers one to one support to access community-based activities such as social groups, creative and physical activities, new hobbies, volunteering opportunities and information on services. It is for anyone who feels they need some support in making connections in their community, taking up a new activity and meeting new people. It is a free service to people over 18 regardless of their income or employment status.

Brendan O’Loughlin, CEO, Offaly Local Development Company, spoke about the development and growth of the Social Prescribing service, from one day a week in 2017 to the current five days. He acknowledged the partnership with the HSE and the various community organisations, services and supports without which social prescribing could not happen.

Lorraine Dormer, Tim Molloy, Catriona Nolan and Alisha Killian at the Social Prescribing event

A number of participants who had engaged with the service also spoke about how it had helped them to link in with activities, increased their confidence and gave them the motivation and support needed to take steps to join groups and meet new people.

Eileen McKiver, Occupational Therapist within the HSE Community Mental Health Team in Tullamore spoke about referring many individuals to the project and has seen how it has supported people to engage in meaningful activities in their community and been a valuable resource in their recovery journey.

Annie Keeley and Rita Davis at the Social Prescribing event

Siobhan Hourigan, HSE Senior Health Promotion & Improvement Officer Laois/Offaly congratulated OLDC on the success of Offaly Well Connected social prescribing service, and thanked all those involved in the project. She also spoke of the "significant health benefits from increasing social connections and combating loneliness and isolation.”

Anyone wishing to find out more information on Social Prescribing or who know of someone who might benefit from the service can contact Michelle Quinn on 087 7470562 or mquinn@offalyldc.ie and Aoife Kelly (Birr area) 087 7385989 or akelly@offalyldc.ie