London Borough of Tower Hamlets

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The London Borough of Tower Hamlets is a London Borough in East London which covers much of the traditional East End.

Social Prescribing

The Bromley by Bow Centre is Tower Hamlets is one of the pioneers of Social Prescribing in the NHS.

In 2016, Tower Hamlets Clinical Commissioning Group funded an 18 month roll-out of social prescribing across the borough with Tower Hamlets GP Care Group, acting as lead provider organisation. The service is delivered by 10 Social Prescribers; each GP practice has a named Social Prescriber. The service offers one-to-one appointments where people can talk about their concerns and the factors that affect their health to a specialist who will identify and organise the best assistance, often through local voluntary services.

The service starts from the ages 18+ but are hoping to cover the ages from 0-18 in the future.

Macmillan also provide a Social Prescribing Service for people living with cancer which is hosted by the Bromley By Bow Centre.


By 1891, Tower Hamlets – roughly the civil parish of Stepney – was already one of the most populated areas in London. Throughout the nineteenth century, the local population increased by an average of 20% every ten years. The building of the docks intensified land use and caused the last marshy areas in the south of the parish to be drained for housing and industry. In the north of the borough, employment was principally in weaving, small household industries like boot and furniture making and new industrial enterprises like Bryant and May. The availability of cheap labour drew in many employers. To the south of the parish, employment was in the docks and related industries – such as chandlery and rope making.

By the middle of the century, the district of Tower Hamlets was characterised by overcrowding and poverty. The construction of the railways caused many more displaced people to settle in Tower Hamlets, and a massive influx of Eastern European Jews at the end of the nineteenth century added to the population growth. This influx peaked at the end of the century and population growth entered a long decline through to the 1960s, as they moved away eastwards to newer suburbs of London in Essex.

The metropolitan boroughs suffered very badly during World War II, during which considerable numbers of houses were destroyed or damaged beyond use due to heavy aerial bombing. This coincided with a decline in work in the docks, and the closure of many traditional industries. The Abercrombie Plan for London (1944) began an exodus from London towards the new towns.

This decline began to reverse with the establishment of the London Docklands Development Corporation bringing new industries and housing to the brownfield sites along the river. Also contributing was new immigration from Asia beginning in the 1970s. According to the 2001 UK Census the population of the borough is approximately 196,106. According to the ONS estimate, the population is 237,900, as of 2010.

Crime in the borough increased by 3.5% from 2009-2010, according to figures from the Metropolitan Police, having decreased by 24% between 2003/04 and 2007/08.

Tower Hamlets has one of the smallest White British populations of any local authority in the United Kingdom. No ethnic group forms a majority of the population; a plurality of residents are white (45%), of which only 31% are indigenous White British. Asians form 41% of the population, of which 32% are Bangladeshi; which is the largest ethnic minority group in the borough. A small proportion are of Black African and Caribbean descent (7%), with Somalis representing the second-largest minority ethnic group. Those of mixed ethnic backgrounds form 4%, while other ethnic groups form 2%. The indigenous proportion was recorded as 31.2% in the 2011 UK Census, a decrease from 42.9% in 2001.

In 2018, Tower Hamlets had the lowest life expectancy and the highest rate of heart disease of all London boroughs, along with Newham.


Map of all the London Boroughs