Healthwatch Somerset has announced the appointment of two new Local Board members, Rena Randle and Anne Clarke.  They are both former teachers who believe passionately that health and social care services can be improved if they reflect and respond to the views and needs of local people.

Former primary school teacher Rena (pictured right), retired to Somerset from London seven years ago to spend more time with her family.  When she’s not looking after her grandchildren, she enjoys dog walking and running, and she has worked as a volunteer with Healthwatch Somerset since January 2019.  Rena, is particularly interested in giving young people the chance to share their views to help shape the future of health and care services in Somerset.  Her many years’ experience working in education, and as a mother of three and grandmother of five, will enable her to develop and enhance the Local Board’s work with young people.

Rena said: “Each of us will use health and social care services at some point in our lives.  Healthwatch ensures that the views of local people are used to help shape those services.  I want to make a difference, so I decided to volunteer with Healthwatch Somerset.  Since volunteering I have met many Somerset residents at roadshows, in care settings and at local community events.  They have all provided great feedback on the services they have used and the ways in which these services could be made even better.  When the opportunity arose to become a Local Board member, it seemed like a chance to use my skills gained in education. I would love to develop Healthwatch with younger people, to encourage them to speak up to shape the future of health and care services in Somerset.”

Anne has a wealth of experience and skills to draw on in her new role as a Local Board member.  She retired three years ago after a long career teaching in a wide range of schools, large and small, from inner London to rural Somerset.  She specialised in early years development and curriculum, and she was also a school governor for 25 years.  Since retiring Anne (pictured left) has volunteered in various settings, including a care home, a community café and as a dementia buddy, and she is also a member of her Parish Council.

Anne is delighted to be joining the Local Board, commenting: “I first volunteered for Healthwatch Somerset a year ago, gathering feedback in the community about people’s health and social care experiences.  Most recently, I have supported the Enter and View programme – visiting health and social care premises to speak to people using the services provided.  I’ve been on a steep learning curve as I had no prior knowledge of the NHS, but the training and support provided has been excellent.  I’ve seen the real difference we can make to the quality of health and care services by listening and reporting on people’s experiences and I’m looking forward to making a difference in my new role.”

There are six members of Healthwatch Somerset Local Board.  They are all volunteers who give up their time to help improve health and social care for local people.

If you would like to volunteer to help make health and social care better for you and your community, contact Healthwatch Somerset Volunteer Officer, Sheila Burridge, on: 01278 264405 or email sheila.burridge@healthwatchsomerset.co.uk