Student Volunteering Week: Meet Aliki

This Student Volunteering Week, we wanted to hear from our wonderful volunteers, without whom our work would not be possible. We asked Aliki Myrianidi, who joined us as a Dignity Champion Volunteer, to share her motivation for volunteering and her experiences of working with Healthwatch Central West London.

Why I chose to volunteer with Healthwatch Central West London…

I first met one of Healthwatch’s engagement officers at a Health & Wellbeing workshop organised by St. Mungo’s, and we started talking about the organisation’s work with health and social care patients in the local area. I found the discussion so interesting that I went to the volunteer officer to learn more. In particular, I found Healthwatch’s prioritisation of patients’ views, and the ways in which they take these views into consideration, very interesting. The work that they were doing was unlike anything that I had seen before, which made me want to get involved.

What my role involves…

My role is that of a Dignity Champion, which means helping people who receive health and social care in Central West London to be seen and heard. I visit care homes, health centres and hospital wards to speak to patients and care home residents about their experiences. I gather their thoughts and opinions, along with my own observations about the environment, as research for Healthwatch.

What I like the most about volunteering with Healthwatch…

Volunteering is a very rewarding experience – you meet people from all backgrounds, make new friends and learn new things. You can develop your skills through the mentoring and training provided, which in turn helps you to shape your community and build a better future for those around you.

The opportunities that volunteering has opened up for me…

Since volunteering as a Dignity Champion, I have been hired as a Dignity Champion Officer. My most recent work for the organisation has included writing reports for our visits last year, and arranging more visits for 2019. I now also train volunteers myself, and I recently provided volunteer training on dementia awareness. I enjoy being able to share my experiences and the skills that I have learnt with the new volunteers joining us at Healthwatch.

Young Carers Awareness Day 2019

Are you under 18 and care for a family member or friend? Do you help them with practical tasks, such as shopping, cooking and cleaning? Or perhaps you give them their medication, while also getting them dressed in the morning? If this sounds like you, then you are a young carer.

Help from the council

Young carers are entitled to get help and support from their local council, to make their life and their caring role easier.

The council’s family team will ask you what support you need and can provide you with:

  • an assessment of your needs
  • one to one support if you have a high level of need
  • advice to support you in your caring role
  • information about other supports services and activities to take part in

You can contact the council directly. Or, if you prefer, you can ask someone you know to contact them for you – maybe a friend or relative, a teacher, or your family doctor. Don’t be afraid to ask – it is important to get the help you are entitled to.

Who to contact:

  • London Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham Family Support Service – 020 8753 6600
  • Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea Early Help for Families Team – 020 7598 4601 or 020 7361  4129 or earlyhelp@rbkc.gov.uk
  • Westminster City Council Early Help Service – 020 7641 400

Local organisations

  • Family Friends – Family Friends is a charity which supports disadvantaged families via a network of trained volunteers. They provide befriending and mentoring services to families living in deprived areas of West London.
  • Insight Young People – Insight supports young people, families and children, who are affected by drugs and alcohol use in Kensington & Chelsea and Westminster.

Other organisations that are able to help

  • Carers Trust – The Carers Trust Network supports carers locally through a unique UK-wide network of Network Partners.
  • Carers UK – As the UK’s only national membership charity for carers, Carers UK is both a support network and a movement for change.
  • The Children’s Society Include Service – The Include service is home to the national young carers initiative supporting children and young people who care for parents, siblings or others who suffer from chronic illness or disability

Know your rights

Young Carers Know Your Rights

Caring for Your Future

Every day 6,000 people become carers. Carers Rights Day is focusing on supporting people to prepare for the future by:

  • Making carers aware of their rights
  • Letting carers know where to get help and support
  • Raising awareness of the needs of carers

Where can you get support?

Carers UK provide information, support and advice to carers. The information and advice they provide covers a range of subjects relating to caring including:

  • Benefits and tax credits
  • Carers employment rights
  • Carers assessments and how to get support
  • Services available to carers
  • How to complain effectively and challenge decisions

You can find details of your local carers organisation on our website at www.carersuk.org/local-support

Support in North West London

Carers Network

Carers Network is a charity that supports carers looking after adults living in the City of Westminster, the London Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham, the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea and the City of London.

Other organisations that may be able to help

Age UK

Age UK is dedicated to helping everyone make the most of later life. Go to their website to find your local branch.

Citizens Advice

Citizens Advice provides free, independent, confidential and impartial advice in England, Wales, Scotland & Northern Ireland. Go to their website to find your local branch.

Contact

Contact is a national charity that supports the families of children with additional needs in England, Wales, Scotland & Northern Ireland.

Call 0808 808 3555 or email helpline@contact.org.uk

If you need urgent help

There are other organisations who can help you get the support you need out of hours

  • Call the NHS 111 service if you are feeling unwell and need a telephone health assessment – just dial 111.
  • Samaritans are open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year – you can call free anytime, from any phone on 116 123 or email jo@samaritans.org

NHS England free guides

NHS England has produced two free guides to support the health and wellbeing of carers and older people. You can download the guides below.

Carers Rights Day – A Practical Guide to Healthy Ageing

Carers Rights Day – A Practical Guide to Healthy Caring

Volunteers Week 2018: Meet Jacky

The 1st – 7th June is National Volunteers Week.

To celebrate the work of our volunteers, and to highlight the benefits of volunteering, we spoke to Jackie, one of our Dignity Champions, and active member of her Patient Participation Group.

What inspired you to become a volunteer?

In 2014 I was asked to represent my Patient Participation Group at a Healthwatch event where I heard about the work of Dignity Champions.  This was something I was particularly interested in at that moment as I had been caring for a friend during the previous four years at the end of which she needed to go into a care home.  I viewed about ten homes in the local area before finding one that was suitable.  I felt therefore that I would like to do something that would make a difference and being a Dignity Champion seemed to provide the ideal opportunity.

What kind of things do you get involved with?

My main involvement is as a Dignity Champion accessing various facilities, also as a PPG member attending overarching meetings of PPG representatives in the local area.

How does volunteering make you feel?

Volunteering gives me great satisfaction as it is an opportunity to give back something to the NHS and other organisations in return for the services I have received over many years.

What kind of people have you met?

I have met all sorts of interesting people who manage to stay cheerful in spite of having many problems.

Interested in volunteering?

Has Jackie’s story inspired you to volunteer with Healthwatch Central West London? If so, find out more.

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

World Autism Awareness Week

In the week leading up to World Autism Day, March 26th to April 2nd is dedicated to raising money and awareness for people with autism.

Anyone can get involved this week:

  • Autism Speaks is asking people to wear blue in support of campaigning for autism awareness
  • Help fundraise
  • Get involved with campaigns to support work, benefits, education and health and social care of people with autism
  • Volunteer with the National Autistic Society or any local organisations in your area

To find out more on why it is important to dedicate a whole week to autism, visit Why we have World Autism Awareness Week

What is Autism?

As defined by the National Autistic Society,

“Autism is a lifelong, developmental disability that affects how a person communicates with and relates to other people, and how they experience the world around them.”

More than 1 in 100 people in the UK are on the autism spectrum. Together with families and carers, autism is a part of the lives of 2.8 million people.

To find out more about Autism you can visit the NHS website.

Resources and Support Groups

For more information on autism and support groups in your local area, you can take a look at these resources for some help.

Autism Awareness Centre Resources

Autism Speaks Resources

Discussion forum for autistic people, their families and other wider networks to share thoughts and experiences.

Social and Support Groups in England

Social Steps is a relaxed and informal social group for adults (16+) with Asperger syndrome who live in either Kensington and Chelsea, Westminster or Hammersmith & Fulham, to come and relax, play games and socialise with one another.

The Autism Helpline provides confidential expert advice and support on all aspects of life with autism for autistic people, their families and friends.

About the National Autistic Society

The National Autistic Society is the UK’s leading autism charity that aims to support people with autism, their families and friends to change society for the better for those on the autistic spectrum. With the support of their members, donors and volunteers, they provide information to help people with autism of all ages to be supported and appreciated.

Student Volunteering Week 2018: Meet Maryam

During February, organisations across the UK celebrated student volunteering week.

We caught up with Maryam, a student at UCL who recently joined us to support our communications.

What does your role involve?

As part of my role I work with Flora to support communications and social media activity, and to look how Healthwatch CWL communicates information to the public.

We pre-schedule posts on social media platforms, for example, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, using a programme which Flora has taught me how to use.

Recently, I have also been sitting in on meetings, taking notes and getting to know the rest of the Healthwatch CWL team. So far it has been a phenomenal experience.

Why did you choose us to volunteer with us?

I believe it is important to establish strong communications between the community and health and social care services.

Healthwatch does just that by providing a platform for discussions on issues concerning patients, and by actively working towards solutions.

I greatly admire Healthwatch’s mission to raise awareness of local healthcare services, as it is integral to the public’s understanding of issues in health and social care.

What do you get out of your volunteering?

I am learning a great deal about how healthcare services operate in the local community, and am part of the process of improving patient experience.

By working with social media, I am being exposed to how important it is for people to get involved in their healthcare services, and am able to introduce people to opportunities and services that they may not know are available to them.

I am also getting to meet individuals who have a wide range of experience and knowledge to share about health and social care.

Interested in volunteering?

Has Maryam’s story inspired you to volunteer with Healthwatch Central West London? If so, find out more.

Healthwatch Annual Meeting 2017

On the 7th November we welcomed 100 Healthwatch members to our fourth annual meeting.

Across the evening we heard from Healthwatch staff, volunteers, and trustees talking about the work we have achieved in the past year. This included updates from each borough, and focused presentations around Grenfell Tower and Charing Cross Hospital.

We were also very pleased to be joined by three special guests.

The first was Jane Mordue, Chair for the Healthwatch England Committee, who took part in our Q&A session and closed our annual meeting, saying “people have got something to say, listen to them!”

Councillor Michael Cartwright, mayor of Hammersmith & Fulham, also joined us. As well as opening the annual meeting, he also announced the winner of our Running Pencils competition.

Running Pencils was an art competition that we ran throughout October, asking school children to draw a healthy activity they liked doing. We then asked local art group ArtWest, to judge the entries. We were delighted to have Penelope, the winner, collect her certificate on the night, and her school will receive a £150 voucher for sports equipment as a result. View the gallery below to see some of our favourite drawings.

Penelope’s Winning Drawing

It was great to see so many of you there and we look forward to working with you in the coming year. If you want to find out more about work go to Our Work, or to find information on local health and social care events go to our Events page. 

Let’s Talk Mental Health in Hammersmith & Fulham

This year mental health was identified as a key focus area for Hammersmith & Fulham. Therefore, we decided to hold an event that would facilitate a dialogue around mental health services, as well helping us to find a more specific mental health focus.

After running a survey asking people what they would like a mental health event to look like, a planning group for mental health emerged, with representatives of local organisations and residents. Together we worked on the agenda, attendees, communications and other details of the event.

Let’s Talk Mental Health in Hammersmith & Fulham, took place on 18th October and brought together over 100 people, including those that use mental health services, those that might want to use services, carers, mental health professionals, voluntary organisations, providers and commissioners.

As well as presentations from Like Minded and Hammersmith & Fulham CCG, and West London Mental Health Trust, we also had complementary therapies, the winner of the national poetry competition #healingwords, and a raffle, presented by MP for Hammersmith, Andy Slaughter.

 

 

In the afternoon we also had group discussions on four main themes, that linked to future changes:

  1. Crisis support
  2. Carers support
  3. Living a full and health life in the community
  4. Employment and mental health

This provided people with an opportunity to share their views and experiences of what is working well, and where the gaps in services are, with the aim to help improve services and future commissioning.

Next Steps

We are now in the process of putting together a report that will be shared with Hammersmith & Fulham CCG, West London Mental Health Trust, and others decision makers, in order to influence future changes.

We are also planning to create a list of services that can be of benefit to people’s mental health, including statutory and voluntary organisations.

Lastly, in 2018 we will look to identify a specific issue around mental health in Hammersmith & Fulham, to focus our work in the coming year.

Find Out More

If you want to find out more about work go to Our Work, or to find information on local health and social care events go to our Events page. 

Event Documents and Files

Mental Health in Hammersmith & Fulham Presentation