Earlier in 2022, the Welsh government launched a consultation to develop a common understanding of the language used to describe social prescribing. With this information, they’re looking to agree on a model of social prescribing that can be used across Wales. They want to understand what is already happening across Wales, what is working well and what isn’t.

What is Social Prescribing?

Before we get into the details of NYAS' response to this consultation, you may be wondering what we mean when we mention social prescribing. Social prescribing refers to a process which connects individuals with non-clinical community support services to support health and wellbeing.

Social prescription moves away from medical intervention so that individuals can take greater control of their own wellbeing. Our health and wellbeing are determined by a range of factors, including social, economic and environmental. It's not always possible or appropriate for medical services to address all of these needs, which is where social prescribing can be beneficial.

By focusing on community services, which may complement medical support, social prescribing helps to develop a holistic approach to wellbeing. Social prescription schemes often include activities provided by voluntary, community or charity organisations. Examples of activities include volunteering, gardening, cookery classes, healthy eating support and sports programmes. 

Sometimes, social prescribed support is referred to as a community-centred approach which takes advantage of the power of communities to generate positive health and wellbeing for local residents. Through their consultation, the Welsh government are hoping to gain a better understanding of social prescribing, and the positive impact it could have across the country.

Has NYAS Cymru Responded to This Consultation?

Absolutely! NYAS Cymru provided a detailed response to this consultation on a suitable model for social prescribing across Wales.

Throughout our response, we emphasised the importance of incorporating a clear plan to engage and support children and young people within the framework. We believe that children and young people, including those with care experience, should benefit from any social prescribing framework implementation.

What did NYAS Cymru’s Response Include?

Across NYAS, we are keen to effectively communicate the services we offer. We want to make sure that all children and young people who engage with our services understand what we do as well as how we can support and empower them.

This consultation was the perfect opportunity for us to emphasise the importance of clarity when advertising a new service, and why communicating the value of a service should always be prioritised. Care-experienced children and young people should be able to clearly identify the outcomes that support options can offer them.

Within our response, we focused on four core areas: 

  1. Rights-based participation

  2. Reduced waiting times
  3. Language
  4. Funding structures

Rights-based participation

NYAS Cymru believes that the Welsh social prescribing model should incorporate a clear plan to engage and support children and young people.

In our experience of delivering key services to children and young people, we know that any initiative designed to support communities will only work for young people when they are considered a priority from the beginning. Using a rights-based approach is also key to successful engagement.

Reduced waiting times

It is possible social prescribing may prevent mental health issues from escalating when children and young people are left on waiting lists to access CAMHS. However, reducing those waiting list times should still be a top priority. Reduced waiting times because of referrals to social prescribing services can be a measure of impact.

As part of those efforts to empower patients and hold services accountable, NYAS Cymru continues to urge Welsh Government to implement an active offer of advocacy for those engaged with any tier of CAMHS, as set out in the Senedd ‘Mind Over Matter’ report which was previously committed to.


To improve understanding and accessibility for members of the public, including children and young people, we recommend a review of the current terminology ‘social prescribing’.

The term ‘prescribing’ could be perceived as medical terminology. As a result, is unlikely to translate accurately to the public. At the moment, the term doesn’t capture what the new model hopes to achieve beyond traditional health bodies.

Funding Structures

For the framework to achieve sustainability, we believe that adequate funding must be provided for services contributing to social prescribing. Public bodies must also guarantee that there are enough resources within the social prescribing framework to meet the expected demands.

Finally, our submission highlighted our concerns about the quality of this service if it becomes oversubscribed. While we support the social prescribing model, it must not be used as a cheap alternative to professional medical care, counselling or treatment when required. There must be a level of assurance and a plan in place to mitigate an oversubscription of the social prescribing service.

We look forward to the outcome of this consultation and an opportunity to engage further with it. NYAS will continue to uphold the rights of children and young people and make sure their voices are heard and reflected in policies that affect them.

Keen to learn more about the proposed social prescribing framework in Wales?