Volunteers play a vital role at Healthwatch, helping the public have their say about health and social care. To celebrate Student Volunteering Week, we spoke to Rebecca about her experiences of volunteering with Healthwatch Brighton and Hove.
Why did you decide volunteer? And why did you pick Healthwatch?
I am in my third year at the University of Brighton, studying Social Policy and Practice. Part of my course is that we must complete a certain number of hours volunteering for an organisation. Due to my huge interest in health and social care, and wanting to look at it as a career, Healthwatch seemed to be the perfect opportunity.
What did you get to do?
The reason I most enjoyed my experience of volunteering was the freedom to get involved with a wide range of issues. I have had the chance to visit a hospital, as part of a project to understand the experience of being in a hospital from a patient’s perspective and what could be done to make it more positive.
I also trained as something called a ‘lay assessor’ which meant I got to visit care services and find out what’s working for people and what’s not. I then helped to analyse what people told us and write it up in a report.
I have also had the chance to work with lots of different people. For example, I worked with Young Healthwatch to understand the issues affecting young people in Brighton.
What have you learned from volunteering?
Volunteering at Healthwatch has really helped me with my course because it has meant that I am able to put real life situations into my academic writing. Also, when we are discussing theories and concepts at university, I can relate it to what I have done through volunteering, which has therefore meant that I understand the theory a lot more.
What would you say to other students interested in volunteers?
I would definitely recommend volunteering at Healthwatch because it opens your world up to what is really going on outside the classroom, and therefore you come back to the classroom with a deeper understanding of what you are studying.