People with a passion for seeing local health and social care services changed for the better are being sought by the county’s independent health and social care champion.

Healthwatch Somerset, which has an important role in assessing the quality of local health and social care services and influencing the design of future services, is looking for local people to join their Local Board, a group of volunteers who help the team shape their workplan.

Hannah Gray, Healthwatch Somerset Manager, explained: “We welcome interest from all parts of the local community.  We’re looking for local people with a passionate interest in helping the local community shape the way their health and social care services are run.

“Although not essential, if people have knowledge or experience in social care, children and young people, mental health, equalities and diversity this would be beneficial.”

Healthwatch Somerset Local Board members will oversee and contribute to the work programme and play a crucial role in monitoring its delivery.  The Local Board will also play a part in supporting the organisation to adhere to its principles, purpose and vision, ensuring that it operates in a moral and ethical way.

Judith Goodchild, Chair of the Healthwatch Somerset Local Board (pictured right) feels volunteering with Healthwatch is a great way to champion the voices of people in the local community.  She said: “All of us hear concerns expressed by people we work with, from neighbours and from people we meet socially about the current state of the NHS and Social Care.

“By volunteering for Healthwatch you are in a position to raise these concerns and as an organisation we can bring them to the attention of the decision makers.  The Board is made up of volunteers.  We are a statutory partner of the Clinical Commissioning Group and Health and Wellbeing Board.  All the information gathered by volunteers is used to help improve the quality of care that patients receive by asking questions at strategic meetings.”

Judith says volunteers are vital to capturing the views of the local community: “Volunteers for Healthwatch carry out a range of tasks that fit in with their other commitments such as undertaking surveys, taking part in Enter and View visits, manning stands at various events and leading focus groups.  Volunteers are well supported through training programmes.

“One of the main benefits of being a volunteer, and Chair of the Board, is that I feel that my time is well used and contributes to our role of representing the public voice when decisions are being made,” she said.

Interested?

Healthwatch Somerset Local Board meetings are held monthly.  In addition, members will need to spend about two days a month on Local Board matters, plus emails and occasional meetings, both day-time and evening.  The role is voluntary, but all out of pocket expenses will be covered.  The term of office will be for a maximum of three years.

For more information about the role and specific responsibilities of a Local Board member please go to: healthwatchsomerset.co.uk/about/vacancies/ where you can download the recruitment pack.

Telephone 01278 264405 or email info@healthwatchsomerset.co.uk.