Dr Sarah Wollaston MP was among more than 50 people who gathered to support a new wellbeing group, due to be launched in the Kingsbridge area.
Members of community groups and private sector organisations joined exercise, activity and art class leaders to learn more about the newly named South Hams Area Wellbeing (SHAW).
Headed up by six trustees, Dr James Mottram, John Moore, Evette Duncan, Andy Pieterse, Sarah Pearson and David White, not-for-profit SHAW will encourage individuals and the community to take a greater role in their own health.
During the pre-launch meeting, held at The Crabshell Inn last Friday, Dr Wollaston and Dr Mottram shared their experience of visiting a similar project run in Bromley-by-Bow in London’s Tower Hamlets.
Addressing the attendees, Dr Wollaston said: “James and I went to visit Bromley-by-Bow and met Dr Sam Everington, an inspirational doctor and the kind of place you are just as likely to be prescribed pottery rather than medication.
“Care co-ordinators put people in touch with the right groups to help them connect with the community. It really was a remarkable place.
“This kind of project can only be achieved by actually engaging with people like you, who are passionate and want to get this off the ground.”
Dr Mottram went on to announce the recruitment of SHAW’s community co-ordinator, Claire Jeffrey, and community builder, Cath Park.
They will work with groups and individuals that already exist in the Kingsbridge area to introduce them to people, of all ages, suffering from medical conditions, such as depression and diabetes, or the 49 per cent of 65-year-olds who are on five different drugs or more.
He said: “We are trying to improve people’s wellbeing with social interaction and social interventions. Social prescribing just makes sense. It’s a win-win for everyone. This is all about enhancing community relationships to try to co-produce solutions to help people’s wellbeing, and aims to complement the more traditional biomedical approach to health.”Martin Johnson, town clerk for Kingsbridge Town Council, said: “It was super to see so many local organisations in attendance at Dr Mottram's presentation. There was much enthusiasm to introduce a social prescribing scheme for the Kingsbridge area and the Town Council wishes him well with his endeavours.”
A wider launch event will be taking place in early summer and SHAW will be making contact with interested potential stakeholders that were there on Friday in the near future.