Scotland’s Singing for Health Network Workshop

In March this year Scotland’s Singing for Health Network ran a workshop looking at social prescribing, funding, training and safeguarding. They have just published a report identifying key challenges in delivering Singing Health services in Scotland, and what Scotland’s Singing for Health Network are doing to address these challenges.

The workshop programme included a range of speakers including Clare McBrien from Givin’ It Laldie, Alison Leitch from the Scottish Social Prescription Network, and Anne Gallacher from Luminate and those in attendance represented social prescribers and link workers, academics, third sector representatives from arts-health, creative aging and other charities and singing group leaders from across Scotland.

Throughout the day they discussed their concerns, thoughts, and ideas on the funding problem and support for practitioners regarding training and safeguarding from those who benefit from, rely on, or indeed, work to provide Singing for Health services in Scotland.

One of the key areas that came up in the discussion was the need to be clear that social prescribing is not free. In the report they highlight that pressures on NHS resources may be resolved via social prescription, but it is unsustainable to expect the third sector to carry this burden.

Currently, many of the singing practitioners and groups are under constant pressure to identify funding to ensure their groups can run, while also preparing for and leading sessions, and providing pastoral support for group members. This requires time, expertise, and appropriate safeguarding of the practitioner.

Other key observations and takeaways under social prescribing and the funding issue included:

  • Practitioners are experienced professionals that should not be expected to work on a voluntary basis.
  • Social prescription requires resources for sustainable longevity.
  • Social prescription needs to be more accessible for GPs and service users.
  • There is a need for valid and widely available evidence base and ongoing evaluation.
  • There is currently no appointed minister for social prescription.
  • The NHS must work with third sector organisations to achieve positive outcomes.
  • Wider awareness of health benefits (via research/evidence) and organisations (via a hub/map) is needed to encourage buy in from GPs.
  • A Scottish Government initiative for social prescription would enable the necessary resources to be invested into achieving a sustainable model across Scotland.
  • A unified payment structure for link workers across Scotland is necessary as part of a sustainable model.
  • A joined-up approach with higher education could provide the resources needed to carry out appropriate evaluation and to help manage the data generated.

They also considered the importance of safeguarding practitioners health and wellbeing and support models including formal mentorship programme, counselling and therapy, or peer-to-peer learning.

Scotland’s Singing for Health Network provides a space for a diverse community of singing practitioners, health professionals, and researchers working on singing and health, to come together to share knowledge, ideas, and practice and to open up avenues for communication between individuals and organisations.

You can read the full report or download it at Workshop-Report-1.pdf (

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