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Community groups invited to join new venture which connects people to support in their communities

14th March 2024

To mark Social Prescribing Day (Thursday 14th March), ambitious plans have been announced to expand the highly successful Verve Healthy Living Network across all localities within the Southern Health and Social Care Trust.

This programme, funded by NHS Charities Together, invests in local people and community groups, enabling them to create health and wellbeing solutions within their own community.  Social prescribing connects people to practical and emotional support in their communities, empowering people to find solutions to improve their health and wellbeing.

The Verve Network is already known for its innovative approach to in promoting health and wellbeing through community-led initiatives within the Craigavon area, funded through Department for Communities Neighbourhood Renewal programme. By integrating social prescribing and health coaching by local Community Health Trainers, the Network has enabled individuals to access support and activities that significantly contribute to their overall wellbeing.

The new expansion provides a real opportunity for groups that have an interest in improving the health and wellbeing of their local community.  Paul Barton, the new Social Prescribing Coordinator with the Trust, explained how the Trust are inviting a range of community groups to apply to form Verve Networks in their localities:

“The expansion of the Verve Healthy Living Network is not just about scaling up; it’s about creating a more resilient, informed, and health-empowered community.  We will be supporting 20 organisations to form local Verve Networks in their area and will train 30 community representatives as Community Health Trainers linked to these groups. The role of Community Health Trainers is key to this model. They will be responsible for providing both one-to-one coaching support  and group support, delivering a range of health and wellbeing activities, from physical activity to mental health workshops, tailored to the needs of their communities. These trainers will receive specialised training to ensure they can offer high-quality, evidence-based interventions.”

Ruth Allen, Head of Community Involvement, said:

“The Verve Healthy Living Network has been an exemplar model for community-led health interventions, demonstrating the power of collaboration in addressing barriers to health and creating local solutions. Through this expansion, we want to amplify its impact, reaching more communities and individuals to improve health and wellbeing across the Trust.”

Gerard Rocks, Assistant Director for Promoting Wellbeing, said:

“This opportunity not only offers a chance to be at the forefront of community health innovation but also to be part of a wider network of like-minded groups and individuals committed to making a tangible difference in people’s lives.”

Organisations interested in joining this exciting venture can contact Paul to find out about local information sessions and obtain an application pack via e-mail: or phone 028 3756 1373.