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Successful navigator scheme broadens horizons in Wokingham

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A scheme which links people with services and activities in their local communities is being extended across the Wokingham borough in response to its popularity and success.

Community Navigators are funded by Wokingham Clinical Commissioning Group and Wokingham Borough Council to help address a wide range of social issues such as loneliness and isolation. They are able to signpost people to the myriad of groups, societies and organisations providing places to go to meet others, get involved in a new hobby or find help and advice.

Already established in the GP practices of Wargrave, Wokingham Medical Centre, Swallowfield, Brookside and Woodley Centre, Community Navigators will soon be operating from New Wokingham Road, Parkside, Finchampstead and Woosehill. Clients do not have to see a Community Navigator in a GP practice, however, and some are based in community venues too.

Residents of any age can access the service – from young parents looking for peer support, to working people looking for information on local sports clubs, to someone looking for help managing a relative’s health condition.

The service shows people how to manage their own health and wellbeing via their communities and local charities meaning they are less likely to seek help from their family doctor for issues that cannot be solved with medical attention.

It is hoped the newly extended team of volunteers, who are recruited, trained and managed by local charity, involve, will help even more people without the need for GP appointments and/or medication.

Dr Daniel Alton from Wargrave Surgery, said: “The scheme has been of great help to our community at Wargrave. Patients often suffer with problems such as loneliness, difficulty accessing services or uncertainty about sources of support available. As GPs, we may lack the up-to-date knowledge or time to best address these issues for our patients. Through this scheme, the community navigator volunteers have the time and resources to address these problems.

Phil Cook, General Manager from involve, said: “There are hundreds of amazing organisations and events in Wokingham and all are offering something that someone will benefit from. Our job is to help people find out what is available in their community and in doing so, help them feel more connected. This in turn increases wellbeing and can reduce the likelihood they will require medical help for their mental or physical health.”

To make use of the Community Navigators in your area, you must be registered with a Wokingham borough GP practice. Simply go online and complete the referral form or call 01344 383515 and speak to the Community Navigator Coordinator (office hours Monday – Friday 9am – 5pm).

More information can be found at www.involve.community/community-navigators

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