Health and social care champion Healthwatch Somerset will be celebrating the difference volunteers make to the local community during this year’s Volunteers’ Week, which runs from 1-7 June.

Volunteers and staff at Healthwatch Somerset will be attending Engage’s Volunteers Award ceremony on Friday 7 June at Halsway Manor, Near Crowcombe, to mark the occasion.

More than 42 volunteers currently offer their time to Healthwatch Somerset, helping in various roles such from community engagement to attending meetings, participating in campaigns and surveys, collecting patient experiences and feedback, attending volunteer training events, taking part in our Enter & View programme and distributing promotional materials across the county.

Over the past year these dedicated volunteers have contributed a fantastic 1,415.5 hours of their time.

Julie Draper, Volunteer Officer at Healthwatch Somerset, said: “Our volunteers are amazing, and this Volunteer’s Week gives us a chance to thank them publicly for all the work they do.

“It’s thanks to volunteers that we are able to get out and about in the communities and listen to the views and experiences of so many on local health and social care services.

“We are always looking for more volunteers and would love to hear from people, whatever their background, to fill one of our voluntary roles. People can make a real difference to their communities and help to shape their local health and social care services.”

Hilary Bartrum from Burnham-on-Sea is a Healthwatch Somerset volunteer.  She said: “I find volunteering with Healthwatch Somerset gives me a great opportunity to help support a fantastic team whose main aim is engaging with people from all walks of life, to listen to and feedback their experiences without bias, with the aim of improving the services for all.  I would love to see an improvement in access and a move towards a more joined up approach to providing both health and social care services.”

Another volunteer, Rwth Hunt from Minehead, added: “Volunteering with Healthwatch is effortless, and congenial.  I have met really interesting people in Healthwatch.  We should be celebrating local services and improving travel options to the centres of excellence.”

Whilst Bridgwater man Alan Kitch says he volunteers for Healthwatch Somerset to help improve the NHS.  He said: “We all depend on the NHS, and Healthwatch is there to help the NHS.  We can help the NHS appreciate the public’s point of view.  We can give them some idea of what the public would like to see done, or, alternatively, not done.  Those working in the NHS are so busy that they often have no chance to find out the public’s point of view.  So by helping them appreciate that point of view Healthwatch is helping the NHS.”

All volunteers with Healthwatch Somerset go through a full training and personal development programme.  They are given a comprehensive volunteer handbook and welcome pack, as well as having access to an online volunteer portal with up to date policies and procedures.  Out of pocket expenses are also reimbursed.

To find out more about volunteering with Healthwatch Somerset call 01278 264405 or email info@healthwatchsomerset.co.uk or visit www.healthwatchsomerset.co.uk/volunteering