A GREENOCK community worker who has been leading the way in helping vulnerable people during lockdown is now championing the cause nationally.

Greenock man Sean Macfarlane is a key member of the Your Voice community connectors team - a groundbreaking project tackling social isolation and loneliness.

Since setting up five yeas ago it has helped thousands of people with complex health needs get out of their homes and meet new people.

In his new role as Scottish social prescribing champion, Sean hopes to reach out to many more people.

Sean, 43, from Eldon Street, said: "My role, like so many others, has changed during lockdown.

"I have been helping people cope with the issues lockdown has presented, from creating and distributing isolation packs for people socially isolated to helping out financially, organising payment and delivery of foods, providing links to debt advice and services for the many people who are struggling,

"Lockdown goes against the model of social prescribing and we are now maintaining contact through telephone and video links.

"We have tried hard at Your Voice to keep people engaged throughout the crisis.

"We have published exercise booklets, a directory of helping agencies, delivered afternoon tea packs and kept in contact with our clients, many of whom are struggling."

Sean has a list of tips to prevent people from feeling cut off by the public health restrictions.

He said: “We advise people to build routine into the day to avoid feeling low or not motivated - and building exercise into their day to promote physical activity.

"It’s about building some normality back into your days, going for a walk from the house to the shop or park.

"We also have local organisations for counselling services if required and maintain regular contact."

For the last five years Sean, who previously worked with adults with learning disabilities, has helped thousands of people connect with new groups, make new friends and try out activities.

His role as a social prescriber is about tackling social isolation caused by depression, mental health and financial problems and chronic pain.

Sean said: "Over a period of 8-12 weeks I help people become more active, access support, counselling, financial help, whatever they need.

"You can see that journey of change making people more independent,

“There are a variety of reasons people would be referred to social prescribing.

"Some people have no confidence to try things on their own and simply need a little nudge and support in the right direction.

"I meet with the individual and we create a prescription together.

"There’s loads of things in the community and opportunities people don’t know about - we have built a local directory on our digital platform, which is all about developing knowledge and skills of the community.

“For the majority of people, social prescribing is about building confidence and helping to introduce people to others and building friendships."

Sean is currently the social prescribing co-ordinator for Your Voice Inverclyde helping change the lives of hundreds of people in the community.

His work has been recognised by the National Association of Link Workers and he underwent a rigorous interview and skills test to be appointed social prescribing champion in Scotland.

He is one of five finalists who have been selected for the UK national awards, which will take place on October 8.