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Student volunteers help research patient views

15/08/17

Over 6,000 volunteers give up their time to find out what people around the country think of health and care every year. Find out about one Healthwatch’s award winning approach to recruiting volunteers.

Medical students help find out what people in Staffordshire think of health and social care

Healthwatch Staffordshire has recruited students studying at Keele University to help find out what people in the local community think of services.

This is just one of the innovative approaches to recruiting volunteers that saw the organisation recognised at the Healthwatch Network Awards 2017.

Volunteers are a vital part of Healthwatch. Without them it wouldn’t have been possible to reach the 300,000 people the network spoke to across the country this year. But finding people able and willing to give up their time is challenging. So Healthwatch Staffordshire considered how the role could be beneficial to both the volunteers and their work.

Healthwatch Staffordshire was awarded the Investing in Volunteers accreditation from Volunteering England in 2016. Going through the process to achieve this status, they realised the need to create roles for volunteers that suited their personal needs and interests. From research to events, to marketing and promotions, they created bespoke roles designed to cater to individuals tastes.

To complete their course, university medical students have to spend time working in the community. Volunteering with Healthwatch gives them the perfect opportunity to do this, whilst helping make local services better. The most recent cohort looked into what local people think of GP, pharmacy and other community services, to inform changes to care provided in the future.

They provide training for volunteers, listen to their feedback about what could make volunteering better, and they recognise people’s efforts in a yearly awards ceremony. In addition to the university, Healthwatch Staffordshire has recruited volunteers from all parts of the community. They advertise opportunities via volunteering organisations, events, social media and press activities.

Jan Sensier, Chief Executive of Healthwatch Staffordshire said: “Our volunteers are our lifeblood and without them we would not be able to do the work we do. From the medical students who have researched the views of patients and health professionals, to the volunteers that give up their time on a rainy afternoon in the furthest reaches of the county to engage with the public on our behalf, we are so grateful for the value volunteers bring to our work, and are committed to working with them to ensure we offer the support they need”

Interested in volunteering opportunities with your local Healthwatch?

Find yours and get in touch. 

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