Peterborough a ‘volunteering wilderness’ as call goes out for more help

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“Peterborough is a volunteering wilderness and we simply can’t work out why,” - that was the stark message give at the latest meeting of Healthwatch Peterborough by chair Margaret Robinson.

Addressing members from Healthy Peterborough, the Campaign to End Loneliness, North West Anglia NHS Foundation Trust, Cambridgeshire & Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust and Cambridgeshire & Peterborough Clinical Commissioning Group the topic of the day was quite clear - the critical issue of how to get more volunteers.

Mrs Robinson went on to add: “We give all of our volunteers full training, we accompany them for the first couple of months when they visit, and they get paid for any mileage that they do, yet for some reason in a city as large as Peterborough all I keep hearing from our fellow services is the need for more volunteers.”

A very well attended meeting at Nene Valley Community Centre heard a keyline speech from Andy Nazer, campaign manager at the Campaign to End Loneliness, talking about the need to keep in contact with peoples of all ages because loneliness is a state of mind that knows no boundaries and can affect everybody at some stage in their life.

Appealing on behalf of Healthwatch Peterborough, Caroline Tyrell-Jones, communities programme manager and Heather Lord, volunteer manager, said that they hoped they could encourage two or three volunteers in each ward of the city to join the organisation.

Volunteers are known as ‘community listeners’ and can come from across Cambridgeshire and Peterborough to help the organisation find out what people think about the health and care services they use.

All volunteers are fully trained and paid for mileage that they complete. They listen to patients telling them about their health care experiences and these are then passed on, completely anonymously, to the health care providers so that they can hopefully improve on the services they offer.

“Things are not yet critical,” Ms Lord explained. “We do have volunteers covering most of the city, but what we would really like is two to three volunteers in each ward, and especially from the ethnic communities, where we feel we can do our best to help people.”

Healthwatch Peterborough volunteers also take leaflets and posters out to public places in their local area and keep them topped up; listen to people’s experiences of local health and social care services and feed that back to central office; visit local groups, chat with people and record what they have to say about their health care experiences; and support the organisation’s engagement team at community events such as stalls, talks and workshops.

For more information contact Healthwatch Peterborough on 0330 355 1285 or Heather Lord on 07885 911147 or email heather.lord@healthwatchcambspboro.co.uk.