A whole community approach to ending social isolation through a social prescribing network

Our Story

F

aith communities, churches, union members and the Mt Gravatt Community Centre came together and decided they wanted to make change in the local community through community organising with the QLD Community Alliance.

Together we listened to over a hundred stories of issues that our community faces.

In April 2018 we crammed into St Mark’s Uniting Church and our community members voted to act on loneliness and social isolation.

We then started a process of “research-action” and we spoke to a wide range of community groups and academics. We quickly learned that this was not an easy problem to fix and so we decided to think creatively.

In August of 2018 we set up a working group with local Councillors, our local MPs and the University of QLD to develop solutions.

It was here that we developed a world-leading pilot for a social prescribing network in QLD.

Two Projects – One Goal

Loneliness and social isolation has serious consequences for individual health and well-being with studies finding that it is associated with a 29% increase in the risk of coronary heart disease, a 32% increase in risk of stroke and 26% increased likelihood of mortality. Loneliness and social isolation is recognised as a pressing issue facing societies around the world with the former US Surgeon General warning of an “epidemic of loneliness” and the newly appointed Minister for Loneliness in the UK rolling out a nationwide multi-agency loneliness strategy.

The Mt Gravatt Social Isolation Project is funded by the Queensland Government, Department of Communities, Disability Services and Seniors and provides the Mt Gravatt Community Centre with a Community Link Worker, Wendy Blackmon.  Wendy’s role is to connect socially isolated members of the community to meaningful group programs and activities through social prescribing.  The Social Isolation Project provides community members and organisations the opportunity to refer individuals who have been identified as socially isolated or experiencing loneliness.

The Mt Gravatt Holistic Health Project is funded by the Commonwealth Government, Department of Social Services and also provides the Mt Gravatt Community Centre with a Health Care Link Worker, Elise MarrElise’s role will be partly based at 2 medical centres and will link patients in primary care with sources of group support within the community. The Holistic Health Project provides medical professionals with a non-medical referral option that can operate alongside existing treatments to improve health and well-being.

These projects demonstrate how a whole of government approach to a major community issue can be addressed through a collaborative model.    Mt Gravatt Community Centre in partnership with the University of Queensland, will be tracking the progress and outcomes of the two projects and developing a comprehensive report to present to the both levels of government.

How it Works

Social prescribing is a way of linking people with sources of group support within the community.

It’s the difference between going to your doctor or your physio and them saying “I think you should join a gardening group” or going to them where they say “I’m going to introduce you to our link worker who will connect you with the gardening group at the community centre down the road who meet at 5pm on Thursdays”.

We are mapping the community, educating doctors and health professionals. We’re talking to groups and clubs in the community, organisations, services, schools and sport clubs, to get everyone on the same page.

By working with the University of QLD, we hope the data can then be used across the country to improve the way we understand loneliness and how primary health care providers and the community should respond.

What Suburbs Do We Cover?

  • Mt Gravatt

  • Mt Gravatt East

  • Upper Mt Gravatt

  • Holland Park

  • Holland Park West

  • Carindale

  • Mansfield

  • Wishart

  • MacGregor

  • Greenslopes

  • MacKenzie

  • Carina

If you’re not strictly in these suburbs
but are nearby, please still get in touch!

Mt Gravatt Community Centre
1693 Logan Rd, Upper Mount Gravatt QLD 4122.
P: 0412679833
E: linkworker@mgcci.org.au