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How you can help improve health and care for your community
Last year 4,700 people gave up their time to help make a difference to local health and care. This Volunteers Week we spoke to Healthwatch Somerset about the difference our volunteers make and why we need more people to get involved.
Why are volunteers so important to us?
Our job is to understand what the local community wants from health and care and to make sure these views are heard by local services.
Our volunteers are at the heart of everything we do. They help us talk to more people and bring their understanding of the local community and people’s experiences of health and care to decisions affecting services.
Our volunteers listen to what people like about local health and care services, and what could be improved. These views are then shared with the decision-making organisations in the county, so together we can make a real difference.
Volunteers play a vital role in making sure local people’s voices are heard. Whatever your background, your time and your talent could make a real difference in your local community.
What can Healthwatch volunteers get involved with?
There are lots of ways volunteers can get involved with our work.
As a Healthwatch volunteer you could:
- Talk to people about their experiences of health and social care services, and collect their feedback
- Support locals who need help finding the right support
- Attend community events to raise awareness of Healthwatch and what we do
- Help research the key issues that are affecting people using health and social care services in your community
- Visit services to find out if they are working for those who use them
- Help represent the local community in meetings with NHS and social care professionals
“I volunteer to encourage the local authority and health bodies to see the value and benefit of working together to shape local health and care services. Volunteering could simply mean giving a few hours a week to pop some leaflets into your local library, shop or GP surgery to help raise awareness about Healthwatch and the difference we can make by working together.” Rachel, Healthwatch Somerset volunteer
Volunteering with Healthwatch is varied, so we’d always encourage people to get in touch with us to find a role that suits them.
What benefits does volunteering bring to people?
Our volunteers often tell us about the personal benefits and sense of fulfilment volunteering can bring. Meeting new people and feeling part of a close knit community are just some of the reasons people tell us they volunteer with Healthwatch Somerset.
“I have lost one leg and have a keen interest in the way health services are run. Volunteering keeps me young and I enjoy meeting a lot of different people, whilst also helping to give local people a voice.” Cliff, Healthwatch Somerset volunteer
Our volunteers also get satisfaction from making a difference to the health and social care services they and their loved ones use – some people are motivated to volunteer with Healthwatch because of an experience they’ve had or because they want to give something back.
“I am currently receiving treatment for Parkinson’s disease and the support has been brilliant. I volunteer to make a difference to the way the NHS is delivered in Somerset and find there’s a wide range of opportunities open to me. To anyone thinking of volunteering with Healthwatch I would say try it!” David, Healthwatch Somerset volunteer
As well as the personal benefits, volunteering with your local Healthwatch is a great way to learn new skills, build connections with people and get experience in the health and social care sector.
All photography by Tim Gander
Feeling inspired to volunteer with Healthwatch?
There’s a local Healthwatch in every area of England. Get in touch with your local Healthwatch to find out how you could volunteer your time to make a difference to health and social care in your community.