Social prescribing interventions connect mental health service users to community resources, to support physical and mental wellbeing and promote recovery. COVID-19 restrictions impacted the delivery of socially prescribed activities, preventing face to face contact for long periods. The aim of this study was to understand how Voluntary Community and Social Enterprise (VCSE) organisations working with a local NHS mental health Trust responded to the challenges of social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic. This understanding will be used to make recommendations for future practice, post-lockdown. Using a convergent mixed methods design, we surveyed VCSE providers of socially prescribed activities intended to be accessible and appropriate for people with severe mental health needs. Follow-up interviews explored further how they adapted during the first year of the pandemic, the challenges they faced, and how they sought to overcome them. The survey and interview data were analysed separately and then compared to identify convergent and divergent findings. Twenty VCSE representatives completed the survey which provided a snapshot of changes in levels of connection and numbers reached during lockdown. Of 20 survey respondents, 11 participated in follow-up interviews. Interviews revealed that lockdown necessitated rapid change and responsive adaptation; activities were limited by resource, funding, safeguarding and government restrictions; no single format suited all group members; connection was key; and impact was difficult to gauge. VCSE organisations commissioned to deliver creative socially prescribed activities during the pandemic rapidly adapted their offer to comply with government restrictions. Responsive changes were made, and new knowledge and skills were gained. Drawing on experiences during lockdown, VCSE organisations should develop bespoke knowledge, skills and practices to engage service users in future hybrid delivery of arts, sports, cultural and creative community activities, and to ensure that digital activities offer an equivalent degree of connection to face-to-face ones. Additionally, more effective methods of gaining feedback about patient experience of hybrid delivery is needed.

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