A new service to help young people has been developed by the social prescribing team at the Jurassic Coast Primary Care Network, which is made up of in GP surgeries across Lyme Regis, Bridport, Beaminster, Maiden Newton and Charmouth.

The SELF Service, which stands for Support, Empowerment, Links and Future, is helping young people by providing them with advice, guidance and links with other local youth groups and opportunities. They are working with young people’s support charities, such as Stormbreak, as well as voluntary organisations and statutory services to make it as far reaching and successful as possible within the area.

“The role of a social prescriber is to facilitate ‘What Matters to You’ conversations, to listen and support that person to make changes in their lives and connections in the area, such as new activities, that might boost their wellbeing,” said Sarah McNulty, Lead Social Prescriber at Jurassic Coast PCN, who has been instrumental in setting up this service.

“Our team really take the time to get to know the young people we see. They can discuss any area of their life that they would like help with. This might be improving their physical health, issues with self-esteem and confidence, practical support such as career planning, or support with low level mental health concerns.

“We work with them over a number of sessions to make sure they are supported and on track to make positive changes in their life.”

Young people in West Dorset can access the SELF service by contacting the team via social media or by asking at their surgery. The team also take referrals from children and young people’s mental health services as well as from GPs. Dr Luke Skellern, GP Partner at the Ammonite Health Partnership said: ‘It’s fantastic to have this additional service to offer young people who are worried about aspects of their life or wellbeing. As a GP it is great to know that we can offer ongoing support for that child or young person, and also for their family.”

Since September 2022 the team have also had drop-in sessions at local schools. So far, over 70 young people have been able to seek support from the SELF team.

“From the beginning of September last year at the Sir John Colfox Academy, we have been fortunate enough to have the Social prescribing Team with us for two days a week” said Sue Chudley, Attendance Support Officer at the Academy.

“They have been into assemblies to introduce themselves and are referred to as ‘The SELF Service’ for our students.

“The team have brought a much-needed, dimension to our Pastoral support strategy and can offer our students a unique and varied support service.

“Referral can be made by staff, parents or the students themselves and they have impacted many families already in a positive way supporting either the parents, students or in some cases both.

“The aim is to support students and families who need support but maybe don’t meet the threshold of a GP appointment. They have been a welcome asset to our school, and we look forward to continuing to work together to support our students and community as best we can.”

This has been so successful that the team has started working within other schools in the area.

To find out more about what the SELF service can offer, visit their social media pages @theselfservicedorset.

For more information about social prescribing and how to access this support, visit your practice website or speak to a member of staff.

Photo from Sir John Colfox Academy of students and cyp social prescribers

Students from Sir John Colfox Academy - Grace, Lilly and Nate with Sylvie Lord, a Link Worker, Sarah McNulty, Lead Social Prescriber, and Sue Chudley who is Head of Year 9 and Attendance Support Officer