The un­sung and un­paid heroes of our com­mu­nity

The Wokingham Paper - - HEALTH - with Ni­cola Strud­ley Ni­cola Strud­ley, works two days a week as the man­ager for Health­watch Wok­ing­ham Bor­ough. Opin­ions ex­pressed in this blog are her own

IT seems as if ev­ery week there is a na­tional “aware­ness” week. Last week it was Na­tional Vol­un­teers Week and I wanted to ded­i­cate my col­umn to ev­ery­one who vol­un­teers across Wok­ing­ham Bor­ough and ac­knowl­edge the huge ef­fort, ded­i­ca­tion, com­mit­ment and value they bring.

In Wok­ing­ham we have hun­dreds of vol­un­tary or­gan­i­sa­tions do­ing amaz­ing things that make a dif­fer­ence to peo­ples’ lives. We are not talk­ing about a few “do-good­ers” but peo­ple in ev­ery neigh­bour­hood help­ing to make the Bor­ough a bet­ter place to be.

Many or­gan­i­sa­tions would not be able to op­er­ate – the peo­ple that drive pa­tients to med­i­cal ap­point­ments, the peo­ple that man the wel­come desk at the hospi­tal, the li­brary vol­un­teers, those that phone peo­ple once a week for a chat and of course the Health­watch­ers that feed sto­ries back to us at Health­watch about peo­ple’s ex­pe­ri­ences of lo­cal ser­vices – what is work­ing and what could be im­proved.

The thing about vol­un­teers is that what they do is price­less – by giv­ing up time to sup­port and help an­other per­son – you can’t quan­tify the value of that. The Chief Ex­ec­u­tive of Berk­shire Youth re­minded me of a great quote last week: “Not ev­ery­thing that counts can be counted. And not ev­ery­thing that can be counted, counts.” – Al­bert Ein­stein

Peo­ple vol­un­teer for an end­less va­ri­ety of rea­sons. Many peo­ple want to gain ex­pe­ri­ence, ac­quire new skills, meet new peo­ple, or ex­pand their net­work of con­tacts as a way to get a new job or start a ca­reer. Oth­ers just want to give back to their com­mu­nity, to help a friend or pro­mote a worth­while ac­tiv­ity. They do it be­cause it makes them feel good. This is the in­trin­sic value of vol­un­teer­ing, not the cost sav­ing it gen­er­ates.

Berk­shire West Clin­i­cal Com­mis­sion­ing Group are cur­rently run­ning a se­ries of lis­ten­ing tours to help them de­velop a new strat­egy for work­ing with the Vol­un­tary and Com­mu­nity Sec­tor. The NHS lo­cally wants to ex­plore how to make best use of com­mu­nity re­sources, skills, knowl­edge and ex­per­tise.

The fact that our Vol­un­tary and Com­mu­nity Sec­tor will play a key role in co-pro­duc­ing the strat­egy will mean that the value of our work will hope­fully be re­flected, as com­mis­sion­ing pri­or­i­ties shift to­wards ac­knowl­edg­ing and pro­mot­ing the im­por­tance of pre­ven­ta­tive work.

I would like to thank a core group of Health­watch Cham­pi­ons that give up their time to col­lect peo­ple’s sto­ries of health and care, keep their ear to the ground and let us know what is hap­pen­ing at the front line of re­ceiv­ing ser­vices, visit care homes and hos­pi­tals talk­ing to the peo­ple that mat­ter most, hand out leaflets to raise aware­ness and re­search pieces of work with us.

Health­watch Wok­ing­ham cer­tainly could not run with­out you. Thanks to all of you that give up your time to help oth­ers.

You make Wok­ing­ham a bet­ter place.

Let Health­watch know your views. Get in touch:

Phone: 0118 418 1 418

Web­site: www.health­watch­wok­ing­ham.co.uk

App: Speak Up Wok­ing­ham (Free to down­load from Ap­ple or Google Play)

E-Mail: en­quiries@health­watch­wok­ing­ham.co.uk Face­book: @health­watch­wok­ing­ham

Twit­ter: @HWWok­ing­ham

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