On Monday, 6th April, I had the honour of speaking at the launch of Breathe Easy Southwark at the Southbank Centre.
Breathe Easy Southwark is a project led by the Sidney De Haan Research Centre for Arts and Health and Canterbury Christ Church University, with funding from Guy's and St. Thomas' Charity. This exciting new project will study the value of singing for people with chronic obstructive lung disease (COPD).
I want to thank all who attended and organised the event on Monday. The work that is to be undertaken will no doubt help a great many people in Southwark and Lambeth in the near future.
I am clear that social prescriptions - like singing, exercise and other activities - should be prescribed more often, and drugs less. These sorts of remedies have one thing in common: the notion of community and shared experience. Whether or not there is a positive effect on people's health, taking part in group activities absolutely has a positive effect on the quality of people's lives. We are, after all, social beings.
With an ageing population putting strain on our NHS, it is important we explore ways to create a healthier society. There is a growing body of research showing that social prescriptions work.
Just last week my party outlined our intention to give greater importance to social prescriptions as part of a £2.5 billion "Care closer to home" fund. This would put people in control of their health and reduce the pressure on hospitals by making sure they have the right services, in the right place - closer to home.