Steering Committee

Dr. Marie Polley

Dr. Marie Polley is Director of Marie Polley Consultancy, Co-Founder and Co-Chair of the Social Prescribing Network and past Chair of the British Society for Integrative Oncology. 

Marie trained as a biomedical scientist and has a Ph.D. in molecular carcinogenesis of lung cancer.  Marie also trained in Reiki whilst completing her Ph.D. and practiced as a Reiki Master for many years.

For the past 20 years, Marie has researched approaches to integrating different paradigms of health and wellbeing focussing on integrative oncology for many years.  Marie collaborated to develop Measure Yourself Concerns and Wellbeing (MYCaW), a person-centered tool for understanding people’s primary concerns. This tool is now used internationally in integrative oncology and enables a persons' voice to be incorporated into their consultations. 

More recently Marie co-founded the Social Prescribing Network, which has led a social movement around the use of non-medical activities to support people’s wider determinants of health and provide additional routes of support to traditional pharmaceutical prescribing.  Social Prescribing has now been adopted by the NHS in England and is being rolled out nationally. Marie led the team to write the first national guidance, the first economic overview of social prescribing on health service usage and recently mapped all outcomes associated with social prescribing to support discussion on inclusive ways of researching and evaluating this growing field. Marie provides advice to senior leaders, Members of Parliament and the House of Lords, key stakeholders and researchers in this field.

Dr. Micheal Dixon

Michael has held numerous national leadership roles including: the first chair of the NHS Alliance, a leader of the GP/clinical commissioning movement, acting president of NHS Clinical Commissioners, special advisor on Practice Based Commissioning to Lord Darzi, member of the National Stakeholder Forum, the National Steering Group and the National Strategy Group for Clinical Commissioning. He is also a member of the NHS Sustainable Development Unit National Advisory Group. He holds honorary positions at the University of Westminster, University College, London, HSMC (University of Birmingham) and Peninsula Medical School, Exeter.

Dr. Marcello Bertotti

Marcello is a senior research fellow at the Institute for Health and Human Development (University of East London). He has 15 years of work experience in research and evaluation and led a wide range of research projects commissioned by research councils as well as local government and NHS organisations. He applies multiple conceptual frameworks to researching community health and integrated care, with a particular focus on evaluating the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of non-clinical interventions. In the last few years, Marcello has developed significant expertise in the evaluation of social prescribing with evaluations for Newham, City and Hackney and Waltham Forest CCGs and published a number of journal articles on the topic.


With funding from the Health Foundation, Marcello led an evaluation of a social prescribing pilot for City and Hackney CCG, one of the largest social prescribing schemes in the UK to date. Marcello is London lead of the Social Prescribing Network (SPN) which unites over 1,300 health professionals, researchers, practitioners, commissioners, and citizens to exchange valuable practice and develop social prescribing in the UK. He collaborates with the SPN on various projects including a review of the economic evidence on social prescribing, training development for link workers and co-coordinates a young people stream to social prescribing.

David Cowan

David initially worked within the not-for-profit sector including coordinating a health forum and community anchor in Leeds. For almost a decade David has worked in the NHS, most recently at South West Yorkshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust as a social prescribing link worker and project manager. For the last three years David has been attached to the West Wakefield Health & Wellbeing GP Federation leading Social Prescribing and Care Navigation, facilitating organisational change under wave one Prime Minsters Access Fund. Subsequently through two years involved in an MCP Vanguard David has continued to lead these services including the development of a social prescribing service in Wakefield that was commissioned district wide in 2017.


David led the development of a freely available social prescribing assessment tool. This tool incorporates a NEF ‘Five Ways to Wellbeing’ framework and has been endorsed by NICE for implementing NICE guidance NG32 ‘Older People: Independence and Mental Wellbeing’. David now leads on the national training and consultancy programme for active signposting in general practice, which is one of one of the top ten high impact actions in the GP forward view.

Tim Anfilogoff

Tim is Head of Community Resilience for Herts Valleys CCG with a particular focus on social prescribing and promoting community led health, showcased through the award-winning Community Navigators Service. He produced the CCG’s first ever carers’ strategy which included the incentivising of 69 carers’ champion roles in primary care across West Herts.
Formerly Tim was Head of Community Wellbeing for Herts CC, commissioning £15m worth of voluntary sector and prevention services. He developed the spec for HertsHelp an expert triaging service for voluntary and community assets, which is now the infrastructure for social prescribing in the County and makes onward referrals to 140 different community organizations per month.


Tim managed the Hertfordshire multi-agency carers’ strategy and led Hertfordshire to Beacon status for Supporting Carers in 2005 whilst also working on the Action for Carers in Employment (ACE) Project in Hertfordshire 2005-7. Tim managed the National Carers’ Strategy and the Carers Grant for the Department of Health from 1999-2000 and wrote practice guidance on the Carers and Disabled Children Act (2000).
Tim was one of the co-authors of Making Sense of Social Prescribing and is co-chair of the East of England regional network. He speaks nationally and internationally on social prescribing and carers’ issues and is a member of the Economic and Social Research Council advisory board on Sustainable Care. Tim has been a trustee of Carers UK since October 2017.

Professor Chris Drinkwater

Professor Chris Drinkwater was an inner city GP in Newcastle for many years and is now emeritus Professor of Primary Care Development at Northumbria University. He was the President and Public Health Lead of the NHS Alliance until 2014. He is the Chair of HealthWORKS Newcastle, and a board member of the Blue Stone Consortium which is leading Well Newcastle Gateshead (, a Well North Pathfinder. He chairs Ways to Wellness (, a charitable foundation responsible for the development and delivery of a social impact bond (SIB) for social prescribing for long-term conditions in Newcastle upon Tyne - the first SIB in health. Professor Drinkwater has considerable expertise and knowledge of social impact bonds and social prescription. Ways to Wellness has been commissioned by Newcastle and Gateshead CCG with financial support from the Big Lottery Commissioning for Better Outcomes Fund, the Cabinet Office Social Outcomes Fund and Bridges Fund Management.

Malcolm Bray

Malcolm is Director of The Health and Wellbeing Connection and regional lead for The South East Social Prescribing Network. He has significant experience in leading and managing strategic partnerships to improve health and wellbeing and reducing health inequalities. His work in the local government, NHS, academic and private sectors has enabled him to acquire an expertise in leading the development of effective health and wellbeing partnerships and building the capacity and capability of health and wellbeing systems.

In recent years Malcolm has provided leadership in developing  wellbeing hubs that connect primary care to community resources, creating dementia alliances and the award winning Dementia Friendly Crawley Programme. He is committed to improving health and wellbeing in communities and has managed an innovative approach using action research methods to develop social prescribing programmes.

Malcolm is actively supporting the development of the South East Regional Social Prescribing Network helping health and wellbeing systems to develop social prescribing programmes throughout South East England.

Malcolm has an MSc in Health Psychology passing with distinction and he won the British Psychological Society Health Psychology Division prize for outstanding MSc Dissertation which explored the lived experience of being diagnosed with dementia. Malcolm is an experienced consultant and able to work with clients in an engaging way using his qualitative research skills to achieve insightful results.

Richard Kimberlee

Richard is a Public Health Economist and is the current social prescribing lead in the South West of England. He graduated with a first class Sociology/Psychology BA honours degree from Lancaster University in 1983. His MSc. Politics (Distinction) was gained from the University of West England in 1996, followed by a PhD in 2000. He has taught at Liverpool (John Moores) University, Bradford University and Bath Spa University. His current research interests include evaluating complex community and health interventions. This evaluative work includes analysis of SRB, Big Lottery, NRSI, Sport England and EDF programmes. He has worked with several third sector organizations in the UK and across Europe to develop the capacity of the sector to profile their work.


Richard has many years’ experience of working with both quantitative and qualitative research methods and in recent years he has undertaken Social Return on Investment (SROI) analysis of a broad range community initiatives including community transport, LinkAge, Thomas Pocklington Trust, Healthy Living Centres and Social Prescribing. He recently reported to Bristol Clinical Commissioning Group on social prescribing activity across the city, evaluated the universal social prescribing service in Gloucestershire and other social prescribing initiatives. And has written key articles on the value and nature of social prescribing and made policy recommendations on sustaining and expanding holistic social prescribing practice.

Craig Lister

Craig is an exercise physiologist with 20 years' experience, including working within the NHS and public health as well as clinical environments and the fitness sector. He worked mostly with patients presenting with complex obesity and chronic low back pain and confesses to missing that challenge, together with the reward of helping someone move forward with their health and wellbeing. He later became Head of Prevention for NHS Bedfordshire where his team developed the Lifestyle Hub, engaging local GPs, Bedford hospital, the local university and other groups; this was an early model of social prescribing (although not called that at the time). He moved on to accept a role as national programme manager for the NHS Health Check programme with Public Health England (PHE) where his team created a national competency framework and he focused on data standard development. Craig's work within the health and fitness sector mostly focused on specialist support (exercise referral, disease management etc.), although did work as Director of Health and Wellbeing for the charity Jubilee Hall Trust in London, a role he very much enjoyed.


Craig's current role is as Managing Director of Green Gym™, TCV's health offer. TCV is a predominantly environmental focused volunteering charity approaching its 60th birthday, each year TCV enables around 900,000 hours of volunteering and last year facilitated the planting of over 200,000 trees. TCV has a community network with over 800 small community groups enabling wide scale dissemination of information and the gathering of insight from numerous different organisations and small community groups. Craig views this as public health work, focused on some of the determinants of good health and wellbeing.


Craig has a personal interest in evolutionary physiology, particularly myokine function from physical activity and the biochemical responses to group based activity. More recently he has moved from his original purely physiology based training, to be very interested in the psycho-social components of why people don’t live healthier lifestyles, and how to support people in removing barriers to better health and wellbeing.


Jo Ward

As a prolific and energetic networker, Jo likes to squeeze between the gaps in organisational infrastructure and cut across sectoral divides to join stuff up in order to: increase collaborative advantage, drive innovation and generate resource for public good. As a fervent advocate for lifelong learning with the Open University and the BBC; and a passionate adult learning campaigner with NIACE Jo went on to develop Health Education England’s (HEE) national widening participation in healthcare education directory of best practice . This publication underlined the value of investing in communities and the importance of using NHS leverage to reduce health inequalities. Social Prescribing at a Glance a guide for healthcare commissioners immediately followed. This was developed in tandem with More than Heritage  (Imperial War Museum North and HLF) which examined the museums sectors contribution to wellbeing. Both publications used extensive case studies to highlight opportunities to work with communities to increase resilience, drive wellbeing and promote recovery.


In 2016, Halton CCG commissioned A Cultural Manifesto for Wellbeing .This was launched at the Kings fund in June 2017. The manifesto provided a clear articulation of the role and value of cultural contributions to a sustainable 21st century healthcare system. It also generated a new scoping exercise, New Ways of Seeing - New Ways of Doing, for the Women and Children’s Services Vanguard. This activity focused on building strategic links between the NHS and the library and museum sector in order to develop adaptive capacity through enhanced opportunity awareness. The main objectives being to promote the best start for all children, enhancing attachment and bonding; to highlight a perinatal mental health agenda and drive investment in Maternity Voices. Early findings have also underlined how cross sector approaches can directly promote NHS commitments to self-care and self-management through enhanced public engagement and the opportunity for a new kind of hybrid health workforce focused on wellness not just illness.


As an active member of the National Social Prescribing Network Jo is looking forward to developing regional relationships and establishing a thriving North West social prescribing community where a Creative Health agenda  is fully realised through strong commitments to social value.

Dan Hopewell

Dan is Director of Knowledge and Innovation at the Bromley by Bow Centre, leading Bromley by Bow Insights, which characterises itself as a ‘real tank’, carrying out embedded and participatory research and evaluation of our asset and placed based model, which supports on-going development and innovation and through our knowledge share programme enables others, in the UK and worldwide, to benefit from our learning. Previously Dan was the Centre’s Director of Strategy and prior to that it’s Director of Services, leading the Centre’s £3.5 million community development and services programme. It was during this period that Dan oversaw the expansion of the Centre’s social prescribing provision to include five further health centres with over 50,000 registered patients. Prior to arriving at Bromley by Bow Dan taught public art at Barnet College and before that he worked in Nicaragua for 15 years developing highly effective programmes for young people and communities based around public art. Dan is also a member of a mural painting collective, and has painted murals in Nicaragua, Mexico, the USA, the UK, Cuba and Palestine.

Alyson McGregor

Alyson has 30 years’ experience working in a range of roles and sectors that meet the health and wellbeing needs of patients and communities. She is currently Director of Altogether Better, a NHS national network organization with an award-winning evidenced-based approach, working with over 21,000 volunteer health champions who draw on their own assets and resources to improve health and wellbeing and service outcomes. Alyson believes a sustainable solution to the challenges faced by the NHS lies in improving the quality of our relationship with people in communities.


Altogether Better works with over 60 practices in 16 Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) across the country (as well as internationally) to prototype a radical attempt at system change, introducing an intervention designed to enable primary caregivers and the population they serve to co-evolve. She was voted one of the top 50 inspirational women leaders in the NHS in 2013 and commended by the judges who said: “Community empowerment is going to be important in the NHS and Alyson is a visionary


Jo Robins

Sian Brand

Siân is Director of Salus Management Solutions Ltd and is currently working as Programme Manager for Connect Well, the social prescribing model in Mid Essex, hosted by Chelmsford Centre Supporting Voluntary Action. She is also supporting the Royal Borough of Kingston, Kingston CCG & Kingston Voluntary Action to develop Connect Well for Kingston-upon-Thames in London. After an initial start in retail management, Siân trained to be a teacher at Warwick University, completing her degree with the Open University but then pursued a career in public services with a focus on public health.

After working at Chelmsford Borough Council Siân moved to Chelmsford Primary Care Group (PCG) forging a 15-year career through the various iterations of local health commissioning organisations, working in various commissioning and leadership roles including children and young people, cancer, and patient and public engagement. During this time, she has also acquired local expertise and knowledge in the voluntary and community sector. Siân’s career golden thread is that of developing partnership working and collaboration.

Sian is an alumnus of the first learning programme of the Greater Essex Leadership Collaborative, whose key aim is to support the development of aspiring leaders within Essex in a system-focused, culture-change collaborative approach.


Through her local social prescribing modelling Sian has developed some key collaborations nationally to help share good practice and develop this national movement, helping it to become systemic across communities. Sian is co-chair, with Tim Anfilogoff, of the East of England Social Prescribing Network and is supporting Bev Taylor (NHSE lead for SP) and Marie Polley (National Social Prescribing Network Co-Chair) in developing the national outcomes framework for social prescribing as well as supporting some National Big Lottery funded work developing a national quality framework for social prescribing. She also contributes to a national group looking a developing a competency framework for the emerging social prescribing workforce.

Sian is passionate about asset-based approaches to health and well-being and driving culture change in both communities and organisations to support people to maintain good health & well-being.  Siân lives in Essex with her husband and teenage children and enjoys travel and photography.


Tony Dougherty


Warren Escalade

Jane Hartley

Jane has many years of experience working in the NE voluntary sector primarily with a focus on health & wellbeing. Jane has been CEO of VONNE, the regional infrastructure body supporting the voluntary sector since April 2015 and is the leads on health and wellbeing for VONNE. She is a member of the Regional Prevention Board and Regional Frailty Community Of Practice, part of the Sustainability & Transformation Partnership (STP) across the region,in addition to being the NE Regional Social Prescribing Facilitator.

She has broad experience of working within the voluntary and public sector including running a local infrastructure organisation and leading a significant health and wellbeing charity, Pioneering Care Partnership (PCP), operating across Co. Durham and Tees Valley for 15 years and managing a health and care commissioning partnership across health and social care within the NHS and local authorities. She has also worked as a consultant supporting VCSE organisations across the North East and has built a strong credible reputation along the way.

Jane is also a Director of Ways to Wellness, the Social Impact Bond funded Social Prescribing Programme targeting people with long term health conditions in Newcastle West. She is a Trustee of the Greggs Foundation and Family Help, a domestic abuse charity in her home town of Darlington, Co. Durham. Jane is qualified to Post Graduate level in Service Improvement & Innovation and is qualified as a coach and mentor.


David Robinson

Debbie Taylor

Debs is an artist and an inspirational speaker who talks about her incredible journey through the mental health system. Debs talks about going from pills to paintbrushes and how a ‘simple’ art class has had such a profound effect on not only her life, but that of her family, the community, the benefits system and is now giving back to society that she has taken from for so long. Debs works for South West Yorkshire NHS Trust as a peer project development worker within the Creative Minds team. Debs is passionate about helping others to achieve more than they are led to believe and might think they can. From being bed bound and heavily medicated to standing in front of crowds to enlighten and inspire their journey regardless of whom or where they are.

Debs is also a mental health awareness and anti-stigma campaigner and strives to improve services for those still in the system. Having never had a voice while she was in that system, she makes sure that people can hear the service user/carer voice and how it feels to be lost in the system. 

Paul Jarvis-Beesley

As Head of Sport & Health, Paul leads on StreetGames’s physical and mental health interventions, as well as strategic relationships with the Departments for Health, NHS and Public Health in England, Wales and Scotland. Prior to joining the StreetGames national team, Paul spent 20years running an outdoor education charity, then four years working on Physical Activity Policy & Promotion at the Department of Health in England.


He was Vice Chair of the World Health Organisation’s Healthy City Partnership in Brighton & Hove, and a Director of Brighton Carnival. He has also worked for Sport England and the Arts Council on physical activity promotion and holds a Masters Degree in International Charity Management. 

Paul co-chairs the Youth Social Prescribing Network and Special Interest Group with Dr Marcello Bertotti.

Sonya Elnaschie

Sonya initially trained as a Physiotherapist at the University of Southampton and has worked in NHS & private setting both in the UK & abroad.  Having a keen interest in holistic and preventative health care, she went on to complete a degree in Western Herbal Medicine at the University of Westminster and volunteering with the College of Medicine Student Strategy Group which lead to her working with the Social Prescribing Network after graduation.


Sonya works independently as a medical herbalist and nutritional therapist, as well as running herbal workshops for children and hosting talks in the community.  She is also a guest lecturer at the University of Westminster and Betonica school of herbal medicine.


Michelle Howarth

Dr. Michelle Howarth is a Senior Lecturer in Nursing at the University of Salford and Deputy Director for PGR. Michelle has a specialist interest in social prescribing and the use of nature-based, person-centered approaches to promote health and wellbeing. Michelle is passionate about promoting personalised care to support people with long term conditions and leads the National Social Prescribing Network Special Interest Group for Nursing through which she is actively campaigning to raise awareness of social prescribing amongst nurses through research, curriculum development and placement opportunities.