Social Prescribing case study – September 2023

One member of the Social Prescribing team initially held a drop-in at Leek Livestock Market to promote the service and offer advice and signposting.  The majority of people passing through the doors were over 55 with many still farming in their 70s and 80s.  Almost all were out of area, living in Derbyshire and Cheshire. 

The sad thing was that the first three separate people spoken to had all experienced a friend, neighbour or family member from the farming community take their own lives in the past two months.    

When asked what could be done to help prevent this, feedback was that a lot of the rural social activities that used to happen have been stopped (hunts, local pubs are now ‘gastropubs’ rather than social hubs for farmers) so there is a lack of socialising.  There was also a consensus that people should talk more about their mental health but there is still a massive perceived stigma.  Many acknowledged that ‘people just get on with it’ until one day they break.   

Everyone knew everyone else by name, which was lovely but some, who live alone, said that going to market was the only day they really see people.   

A lot of farmers said how popular the Rural Health Clinic at Bakewell Cattle Market is (Nurse & Physiotherapist are there plus the Agriculture Chaplain for support & signposting) and said they would welcome something similar at Leek.   

A Social Prescribing Link Worker (SPLW) approached the office staff and Market Manager about the possibility of having someone to come in to offer regular health checks at Leek and they were quite open to it.   

As mental health was a recurring theme the SPLW approached the Farming Community Network (FCN) who were keen to support market-goers with specialist advice and mental health support from peers who understood the complexities of rural life.  They worked together to create a three-week trial health drop-in service in conjunction with Everyone Health.    

The SPLW also arranged for helpline posters to be placed in prominent positions at the market and tailored some of the Social Prescribing flyers more to a farming audience.   

Social Prescribers supported the Everyone Health Team and the FCN when they attended the market and engaged with a large number of people.  

There have since been four visits by the Everyone Health Trailer and six by FCN for mental health support and specialist advice.  These services have now become familiar to market goers, staffed by approachable trustworthy people and a large number of people have taken the opportunity to have health checks and a meaningful chat in a location convenient and familiar to them.   

Due to the success of the health trailer Leek Livestock Market are looking into setting up a permanent area for health checks within the market building provided by Everyone Health, with additional space for private conversations and advice.   

Identifying a need and putting plans into action has made health services more accessible and is hopefully a good start in reducing health inequalities amongst the farming community. 

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