A STROKE survivor has thanked those who helps him overcome depression and isolation.

Gary Hooper is now part of the Men’s Shed at the Kennedy Way Community Garden in Clacton.

Last August the 71-year-old suffered a stroke and had rehabilitation.

He was then put in touch with a social prescriber at Community Voluntary Services Tendring (CVST).

Through social prescribing – sometimes known as community referral – GPs, nurses, and other primary care professionals can refer people to a range of local, non-clinical services to support their health and wellbeing, giving them more choice over the treatment they receive.

Gary said: “She went through the things she could do for me such as a grab rail in the shower and stairs outside my door.

“Then she mentioned the Men’s Shed, I’d heard of them before and thought I would really love to be a part of that.

“Since I’ve been coming here it has helped in coping with depression as I’m no longer feeling like I’m on my own.

“I’ve met a lot of other people here who have suffered from depression and it’s a great meeting place.

“It’s also helped with the loneliness of being stuck indoors all the time.”

With the help of others at the Men’s Shed, Gary has been building a frame to create a new tool shed for his garden.

While there he was also signposted to Tendring Specialist Stroke Service, based in Holland-on-Sea, which offers support and services to stroke survivors and their families.

He added: “If it wasn’t for CVST and its Men’s Shed I would probably still be very isolated, very insecure and pretty depressed sitting at home doing absolutely nothing.

“It’s given me a purpose and there are some wonderful people here.”

Gary spoken in support of CVST’s Social Prescribers to mark National Social Prescribing Day.

Sharon Alexander, chief officer at CVST, said: “It is an invaluable tool in keeping residents healthy and supporting their social needs.

“Our social prescribers are linked to every GP surgery in Tendring and work with partner organisations to assist their clients as well as signpost people to services they may need.

“We love to hear stories like Gary’s where a social prescriber has helped improve their life especially when that change has come from attending one of our groups or activities like the brilliant Kennedy Way Community Garden.”

Clacton and Frinton Gazette:

The community garden in Kennedy Way was opened last year

The garden was developed as a result of a collaboration between the North East Essex Clinical Commissioning Group and site owners NHS Property Services (NHSPS).

NHS Property Services said it has continued the development of social prescribing hubs across England, with 34 spaces now refurbished for social prescribing use.

The hubs provide several community services including mental health workshops, support groups and gardening activities.  

Rhea Horlock, Head of Corporate Social Responsibility at NHSPS, said: ”Since 2019, we have been working with our customers across England to identify vacant spaces in our portfolio and transform these into social prescribing hubs that can be used to support a whole range of community-led health initiatives.

“I’m delighted that NHSPS have been able create 34 of these hubs so far, giving essential voluntary sector services the space that they need to help more people and keep communities healthy.”

For more information about social prescribing, go to cvstendring.org.uk.