Back in 2015, the Bromley by Bow Centre partnered with Macmillan Cancer Support to pilot the delivery of community based holistic cancer support. Together they launched and delivered the Macmillan Social Prescribing (MSP) Service to test this new model of delivery.

This pilot is now drawing to a close, we are excited to share our new evaluation of the service to ensure future services are designed to best support people affected by cancer.

During the last 4 years the MSP service has provided one-to-one support to over 2,000 people living with and beyond cancer in Tower Hamlets, City & Hackney, Newham and Waltham Forest. In depth support has been provided via the phone and from community locations in East London.

The Bromley by Bow Centre Insights team have produced an engaging evaluation report of the Macmillan Social Prescribing Service. The evaluation was commissioned to consider the outcomes and impact of the service for clients and an economic assessment of the service through a Social Return on Investment (SROI). The report describes how the team supports people living with and beyond cancer to identify their own goals and connect to new activities and services. This is what it meant to one client:

“My Social Prescriber was great: really helpful and sympathetic. They helped me to think through what I needed to do to look after myself. What is great about MSP is that it’s about the whole person. When you’re going through treatment, it’s all about the medical side. The most valuable thing was being given the space to reflect by someone who wasn’t part of my life. The service adapted to my needs. Your body lets you down when you have cancer and dancing gave me confidence in my body and the opportunity to have a laugh. Through the [referred activities] I met people, developed friendships, felt encouraged. MSP gives you what you need after treatment to put a life back together again.”

The report found that the Macmillan Social Prescribing Service alleviates clients’ concerns and supports wellbeing: here was a clinically and statistically significant improvement in clients’ concerns and in their wellbeing. It also examined the importance of a cancer-specific social prescribing service and how MSP supports the healthcare and voluntary sectors through channelling need.

The SROI found that for every £1 invested in the service, a further £2.27 was provided in social value. A conservative estimate of the economic value to the NHS was £347,094.

Read the full report.

Macmillan Cancer Support funded the service at the Bromley by Bow Centre to test and develop this model of delivery with the objective of the service securing longer term funding from other sources (e.g. CCGs or Local Authorities). Despite our best efforts and with the involvement of a range of stakeholders, the Bromley by Bow Centre, supported by Macmillan, has been unable to secure this continuation funding from statutory sources. We do however, hope the report and our broader learning will enable other services both at the Centre and within NHS, to better understand and support people affected by cancer.

The team have developed a number of documents that outline the alternative services and support available to people living with and beyond cancer in East London. These have been shared widely with those affected by cancer and the professionals supporting them.

Find out more here.