Healthwatch Derbyshire Volunteers Appeal
Healthwatch Derbyshire, the independent organisation representing the views of the Derbyshire public on health and social care services, is appealing for more local people to get involved in its activities across the county.
The organisation, based in Milford near Belper, currently has more than 45 volunteers working alongside its ten-strong team of staff members in a wide range of roles.
There are however a number of vacancies and Healthwatch Derbyshire is currently recruiting volunteers to help with public events and marketing.
Healthwatch Derbyshire also provides training for volunteers who then undertake Enter and View visits to residential care homes, become Community Listeners – gathering information from the public about their views and experiences of services – and to take up roles as ‘mystery shoppers’ across the county.
Healthwatch Derbyshire Chief Executive Karen Ritchie explained: “We are a small team with a large and important remit to give a voice to local people about health and social care services.
“Our volunteers therefore have a vital role to play - whether that is working alongside us in the office, helping to collect people’s views of health and social care services or visiting residential home to assess how services are provided.
“Our volunteers give as much time as they can and are people with energy and enthusiasm who are passionate about improving health and social care in Derbyshire.”
Among the local people who work with Healthwatch Derbyshire in a voluntary capacity is Helen Barker (62) who lives in Ashbourne and worked in a wide range of roles in the health service and public sector before she retired three years ago.
Mrs Barker explained: “When we moved to Ashbourne two years ago, I looked around for volunteering opportunities that would utilise my skills, help me to meet new people and enable me to put something back into society.
“I started as a Community Listener with Healthwatch Derbyshire and attended a wide range of meetings to gain people’s views on health and social care services.
“I then did the training to be an Enter and View volunteer and have found this particularly rewarding. I have long been concerned about who speaks up for people in residential care homes who do not have many family or visitors and these visits are a valuable way of raising any concerns that are fed back to us.
“More recently, I applied to be part of the Healthwatch Derbyshire Board which, again, I am enjoying.
“Healthwatch Derbyshire provide a wide range of training and support so you never feel uncomfortable with what you are being asked to do.
“Although my background is in the NHS, I don’t think that you necessarily have had to work in health or social care as it is good to come to the sector with a fresh perspective.
“The only thing you need to have is an interest and ability to communicate and most importantly, to listen.
“I think people are more open and frank with expressing their views and experiences to a lay person rather than a health professional and I hope that we make a difference.”
For more information about how to get involved as a volunteer with Healthwatch Derbyshire, please visit www.healthwatchderbyshire.co.uk or telephone 01773 880786.