Meet Sharon Hanooman, Senior Social Prescriber – London Borough of Waltham Forest

Hi my name is Sharon and I’m a Senior Social Prescriber at Waltham Forest Council.

Many will ask what is social prescribing? It’s about connecting people to local groups and activities to empower them so they can manage their own health and improve their wellbeing.

I say it’s about “doing with people not doing to them”

In my job GPs refer patients to our service and I contact them by telephone and recommend the best fit organisations that can provide them with support for their health and social needs. This can be connecting people with organisations who can help them to stop smoking, provide counselling or to even help with housing or money problems. It’s a varied role and you come across so many different people who need help.

I’ve lived in the East London for the past 30 years and I’m passionate about working in the area. I love working in the East End and I’m very passionate about the changes and regeneration in this area and feel I am making a difference in my role!

I originally wanted to work in Clinical Psychology learning about mental and physical health conditions, anxiety, depression and so on. I did my Psychology degree at East London University and then a Masters in Social Psychology at the London School of Economics.

I’ve worked with local communities for a long time and naturally became interested in supporting people so they can better manage their own health. Some days I’m referring people who need support with preventing diabetes other days it may be linking people in with the local employment advisor who can help them find a job. It’s about helping people have a healthier lifestyle so they can have a good life.

Over a working day I make contact with many different organisations and, as a senior lead, I work with and provide training to others on social prescribing. I see myself as the link between residents and the further support they need, in order to improve their health and prevent their illness from worsening.

I enjoy working with patients to motivate them to help themselves. I’ve personally learnt a lot in my role and this has enriched my own development, working with people on improving their health and stopping it from deteriorating.

My future plan is to work more closely with the organisations in the community to develop together health information in an interesting and exciting way that will have a positive impact. I want to let people know how they can stop themselves from becoming ill and how we can help them. This is a challenge but one I am definitely up for!

Top tip
If you have a passion to support others and encourage them to fulfil their potential then I would recommend you find out about community organisations supporting vulnerable people in your area and see if you can volunteer.