I wanted to start volunteering with an organisation in which I could develop a range of skills, and most importantly, learn about the NHS. I found Healthwatch through a university volunteering website and it seemed to fit really well with my aims. I became an official volunteer back in Autumn of 2018.
Since then I’ve been involved with a few different projects. I’ve helped at two “listening” events, involving speaking to users of the NHS to gather insight into their own personal experiences of using it. One was at GP practice and the other was at a weekly community meal held by a local church. Both were very eye-opening for me, as I got to hear individual’s unique stories – the good and the bad. I’ve also helped out in a few desk-based research projects involving looking into GP services in East Surrey, and currently am helping to gather information about COVID-19 responses by GP practices. The project I’ve enjoyed most was being able to analyse and write up data from one of Healthwatch’s own surveys that aimed to understand people’s current experiences of the NHS, and how they want it to adapt with the Long Term plan.
The support given to volunteers by Healthwatch staff is really good – I’ve been working whilst volunteering and they’ve always been extremely flexible. There’s also extensive training available to support volunteering activities. So if you’re thinking about joining as a volunteer at Healthwatch, I’d say go for it as there’s lots to try and lots to learn!