Almost 1,500 people in the borough have benefitted from the social prescribing service in the form of cooking classes, housing help and money advice.

More than 80 per cent of these were referred by their GPs who believed the additional support would benefit their wellbeing since Waltham Forest launched the service in 2016.

Money, debt problems and social isolation are among the most common reasons cited by those receiving help.

Social prescribing is a way of offering non-medical referral options to patients alongside existing treatments to improve health and wellbeing.

The service is now being extended to support young people aged 17 to 25 leaving care with funding provided as part of the Better Care Together programme to ensure access to the social prescribing service is part of every care leaver's health offer from April.

GP and chair of NHS Waltham Forest Clinical Commissioning Group Anwar Khan said: "More often than not, as GPs we see patients who have social, emotional or practical needs that are better met by social prescribing than with medical treatment or a prescription.

"By helping nearly 1,500 people onto the path of better physical and mental health, Waltham Forest’s social prescribing service is just what the doctor ordered."

Currently the social prescribing service in Waltham Forest offers and support for issues such as benefits and deb, healthy eating, local befriending and volunteering, building confidence, access to local groups such as art, gardening or cooking classes and assistance with housing issues.

The service was launched as a partnership between the council, the Clinical Commissioning Group and the Better Care Together programme.

Naheed Asghar, cabinet member for Health and Voluntary Sector Partnerships at Waltham Forest Council, said: "The social prescribing service will allow residents to take part in activities in the community, encouraging them and helping them gain more confidence, and overall improving their health and well-being.

"By delivering this service we are hoping to provide more targeted support for those struggling with issues GPs would not be able to resolve, which is part of our commitment to improve life chances for all Waltham Forest residents."

The service was a key feature of the NHS Long Term Plan launched in January which outlined that within five years more than 2.5 million more people would benefit from social prescribing.