Wellbeing Support for Young People in the North Cotswolds, from our Specialist Social Prescriber Karen Price

Children’s Mental Health Week, starting on Monday February 5th, seems like the ideal time to talk to Karen Price, our Social Prescribing Link Worker for Young People in the North Cotswolds.  Karen explains her work in the North Cotswolds, and recommends some useful wellbeing resources for young people and their parents in wider Gloucestershire and beyond.  

Karen, who was a primary school teacher before becoming a Social Prescriber, gives wellbeing support to young people aged from 8 to 24.  She can help young people move forward with any aspects of life that they are unhappy with and want to try to change.   Issues that come up frequently in her work include education, long term health conditions, social anxiety, understanding and managing emotions, healthy relationships, friendships, finding training or employment, feelings of isolation or loneliness, healthy living – and many more.    

Karen chats with a young person at the Stow-on-the-Wold GP surgery

Asked to explain her job in just one sentence, Karen put it this way: “Overall, what I do is to enable a young person to explore ideas and options in areas of their life where they feel they want to change.”

Karen works with all the GP practices in the North Cotswolds - Mann Cottage, The White House, Cotswold Medical Practice, Stow on the Wold, and Chipping Campden.  Clients are often referred to her by their GPs, but they can also self-refer, or can be referred by friends, family, or their school’s pastoral team.  

Once she has received a referral, Karen aims to make contact with the young person within five days.

“I usually respond by text or email initially, before our first conversation, then agree a time to chat on the phone or meet face to face.  I also use WhatsApp and Messenger – but as we move on from the pandemic, people are moving more towards face to face.”

Karen Price speaking on the telephone to a client

In-person meetings can take place at the doctors’ surgery, in a café, in a park, at school, or even while going for a walk together – wherever the young person would feel comfortable to talk with Karen about their life and the issues that are troubling them.

“Firstly we’ll have a brief conversation about what matters to them at the moment, what’s going on in their life, celebrating what’s going well, and then talking about ways to manage things they’d like to change.”

The sort of help Karen provides varies from person to person, depending on their needs and what they prefer.  Sometimes she will help them to research or summarise their options, or help them find and link up with other services or groups, and at other times she helps by providing a listening ear.  “Sometimes it's just a safe space and a conversation, somewhere where they can be listened to and not judged, it’s always client-led.  Often I’m working with young people on emotional literacy, helping them to realise that all their feelings are OK, and enabling them to understand and manage their emotions.”

Karen Price discusses options with a young person at the Stow on the Wold GP surgery

Here is some of the feedback that Karen has received from clients about their sessions with her:

  • "Having someone listen to me and help me talk through my options has really helped."
  • "Looking at different strategies to manage my emotions was really good."
  • "I started to speak to Karen because following lockdown I developed anxiety.  My parents wanted me to have someone to talk to about my worries, and find solutions to them. I found it really nice to have someone to talk to... I now feel a lot better after having the sessions and I feel I have been able to make that progress myself, with Karen's support."
  • "Connecting me with Tic+ was so helpful because I didn’t know what services were out there."
  • "I look forward to our appointments because I can talk about anything I need to."
  • "By talking about what matters to me, I have now achieved what I wanted at the beginning of my journey. I am now seeing family members that I couldn’t because of my anxiety. Visualising and talking through scenarios has helped me to talk to them and this in turn has improved my mental health."

Karen is usually working with around 25 clients at any time, and typically she meets up with each of them every 2 weeks, over a series of about 6 sessions - though sometimes she might be working with a client for as long as six months. 

Karen finds that just a few sessions over two or three months can often be enough to help young people make significant progress in their lives, and substantially improve their wellbeing:

“I love having positive conversations with young people, enabling them to be their best self.  It’s rewarding to see the change that can happen for young people over even a few weeks when a young person decides to make a change - you can see them flourish and gain confidence,” said Karen. 

“It’s good to be able to have a rapport with young people so they feel safe to share their story, enabling them to make the changes.”

For wellbeing support for young people in the North Cotswolds, you can contact Karen via the Cotswold Community Wellbeing Service - see the contact details at the end of this page.   If you are not in the North Cotswolds area, here are some young people's wellbeing resources available to everyone in Gloucestershire that Karen recommends:

Stem4.org.uk - Supporting Teenage Mental Health, a website full of advice and useful resources for teenage wellbeing.

Gloucestershire Parent Carer Forum – Support for parents and carers of children who need extra help.

Gloucestershire Family Directory -  Information for parents and a dedicated section for young people to support their health and wellbeing.

On Your Mind Glos - A comprehensive support-finder, links to confidential online chat support services, and Digi Nova, a therapeutic game for 7-12 year olds.

You can contact the Cotswold Community Wellbeing Service, which Karen is part of, on cws.grcc@nhs.net  or 07738 106384  

More information about this service, and links to the Community Wellbeing Services for other parts of Gloucestershire, can be found on our Cotswold Community Wellbeing Service web page