Social Prescribing“I think people need to turn to somewhere for information and not just get it from social media, because that’s causing a moral panic.”

As heard on The Ryan Tubridy Show

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Here’s a new phrase you can use and impress your friends: social prescribing. What does it mean? Yvonne Reddin explained it to Ryan Tubridy this morning, that instead of going to your doctor and getting a prescription for medication that you may not actually need, you get a different form of prescription altogether:

“Social prescribing is the GP actually prescribing you to go to your Community Centre in your local community and see what’s available there, join a course, get socialising, get mingling with somebody and the piloted it here already – I looked it up – and it’s working.”

Yvonne reckons that the old back-to-basics of talking to people could potentially benefit people more than taking some tablets. So that’s social prescribing, a community-based solution for those who need it. And Yvonne is very passionate about that possibly under-appreciated resource, the community centre:

“I just feel they’re very underrated and people don’t know enough about what they offer. And they’re for everybody.”

As a teacher in a community centre, Yvonne knows what she’s talking about. She volunteers as a teacher of a Creative Writing course at a centre called SWAN (Southside Women’s Action Network) in Ballybrack, Co Dublin. Especially now, Yvonne says, people need support and they need a source of information and reassurance.

“I think people need to turn to somewhere for information and not just get it from social media, because that’s causing a moral panic.”

Asked by Ryan to tell him about herself, Yvonne’s response was, “God, where do I start?” At a low point in her life, she said, she did a course at a Further Education college that eventually resulted in a degree in Journalism. Two months after her graduation, she found out she was pregnant with twins.

“After all that hard work, I was like, ‘Oh my God’, you know? And I’m still in shock over it.”

The twins are 6 now and Yvonne also has a 17 year old son. She describes their upbringing as a struggle – 95% of the time she was lone parenting. She was exhausted a lot – which is understandable – and was effectively self-isolating before it was profitable or popular. Her love of writing led her to start her blog, Sleeping with the Fishes, and she credits that with improving her situation.

“But when you’re in that hole, and you just can’t get out of that bubble of pure exhaustion and overwhelment as well, of having two new babies to look after, you know, you have to find another way to get support, if you don’t have enough.”

When the twins went to crèche, Yvonne asked the manager if there was a support group for parents like herself. There wasn’t, so Yvonne set one up with another woman, who’s now a good friend. Ryan told Yvonne that he thinks she should be running for local office, as she “gives a damn”. We’ll keep an eye on her for sure.

You can hear more about social prescribing in the full chat between Yvonne and Ryan here.

And Yvonne’s blog is Sleeping with the Dishes.

Niall Ó Sioradáin

© The Listener 2020

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