Healthwatch Wiltshire has earned national recognition for a project which gave hundreds of young people a chance to speak up about their mental health.
We picked up an award for Volunteering at the Healthwatch England conference in Stratford upon Avon on Wednesday 3 October, an event which brings together Healthwatch teams from across the UK.
In partnership with Youth Action Wiltshire, Community Organisers from Community First and local schools, Healthwatch mentored a group of students, supporting them to learn new skills and build confidence. Some of the students were trained to become Young Listeners, visiting schools and speaking to other students to understand their views on mental health.
Stacey Plumb, Interim Manager for Healthwatch Wiltshire, said: "We're over the moon to win this award. We really enjoyed working with the students and would like to thank Youth Action Wiltshire, Community First and all the schools involved for helping us bring this project to life.
“The Young Listeners showed great dedication throughout this project and really listened to what other young people told them. There were also great benefits for the Young Listeners themselves, they learnt a lot and have grown and developed in confidence.
"The government has committed to spending £1.4 billion in children and young people's mental health services over the next five years and, as more and more children are seeking support for their mental health, we wanted to know what young people want from these services."
Students taking part in the project told Young Listeners they wanted:
Another said: "I wanted to become a Young Listener so I could help young people if they have problems because I might have had some experiences that are close to theirs."
Cleo Evans, from Youth Action Wiltshire, said: “We are delighted and proud to learn that the YouthWatch Project for Healthwatch Wiltshire has been recognised nationally by Healthwatch England.
"Healthwatch Wiltshire commissioned Community First and Youth Action Wiltshire to deliver a local programme that enabled us to develop and deliver a bespoke youth volunteering project that placed young people at its heart. For young people in Wiltshire, they have been given the opportunity to help shape the future by allowing young people to take ownership of how they should be supported in schools around their mental health and wellbeing.
"We have loved working with the young people who are the true heroes of this project.”
The project was undertaken by Healthwatch Wiltshire under our previous provider, Evolving Communities.
Celebrated every year, the Healthwatch England awards highlight how local Healthwatch across the country have helped make people’s views of health and social care services heard.
Liz Sayce, award judge and Healthwatch England Committee Member, said: “Healthwatch Wiltshire have this year demonstrated the real power of peer support. They helped young people who had experienced mental health challenges to grow in confidence through volunteering, learn how to support themselves, and how to help others too.”
Read more about the Young Listeners project on our Reports page.
We would like to hear your views on mental health services in Wiltshire. Tell us about your experiences in our survey.
Healthwatch Wiltshire are asking local people what areas within mental health they should be focusing on for the next year.
Earlier this year Healthwatch Wiltshire staff and volunteers asked local people what they thought their priorities should be for the year ahead. Over 150 people voted for the top priorities and mental health was chosen by many people as a key area that should be focused on.
Healthwatch Wiltshire would now like to know what you think are the key issues within mental health so that they can focus their work.
Fill in their short survey here:
Healthwatch Wiltshire has been shortlisted for an award for using creative ways to involve volunteers in their work. Working with Youth Action Wiltshire and Community Organisers from Community First, the Young Listeners project developed a different way to listen to young people in schools.
A team of 11 young people from secondary schools across Wiltshire were recruited and trained to become Young Listeners. They volunteered 999 hours of their time, listening to their peers to find out what they thought about health and wellbeing support within their school.
The Young Listeners spoke to 156 young people across 4 schools. They were told that young people wanted opportunities to discuss mental health and wellbeing within school and that this should be more accessible. Young people also felt that it was important to be able to talk about health and wellbeing issues without judgement and to be respected. Young people also said that they welcomed having the chance to share their views with their peers.
These findings have been shared with the school network and with those that plan and pay for services so that they can be used to influence improvements.
Stacey Plumb, Healthwatch Wiltshire Interim Manager said, “The Young Listeners showed great dedication throughout this project and really listened to what other young people told them. There were also great benefits for the Young Listeners themselves, they learnt a lot and have grown and developed in confidence. We are delighted to have been shortlisted for an award and that this hard work has been recognised.”
One of the Young Listeners that took part in the project said “I found the project incredibly useful and inspiring. Although I was pushed out of my comfort zone in the beginning, I feel a lot more confidence when talking to people.”
Celebrated every year, the awards highlight how local Healthwatch across the country have helped make people’s views of health and social care services heard. The overall winner from each category will be chosen by a panel of judges and announced at the Healthwatch England annual conference in October 2018.
*** This project was undertaken by Healthwatch Wiltshire under the previous provider, Evolving Communities.
Wiltshire Council has appointed a new provider for Healthwatch Wiltshire. The contract has been awarded to Help & Care, a charity founded in Bournemouth over 30 years ago but now working across south-central England, who will take over the service from 1 June 2018.
Why are things changing with Healthwatch Wiltshire?
Healthwatch Wiltshire’s current contract comes to an end on the 31 May after five years. Wiltshire Council went out to competitive tender and organisations were able to bid for the contract. Help and Care gained the highest score and were awarded the contract which will start on the 1 June.
What will be different?
Help and Care will be responsible for delivering the new contract from the 1 June. They have been working with the current provider Evolving Communities to ensure the transfer process goes smoothly.
Will the same staff be supporting Healthwatch Wiltshire?
Stacey Plumb, Volunteer Officer and Julie Brown, Engagement Officer will transfer to Help and Care under TUPE laws and become employees of Help and Care. Lucie Woodruff, Healthwatch Wiltshire’s current manager has decided not to transfer and will remain with Evolving Communities in a new role.
What about volunteers?
Current Healthwatch Wiltshire volunteers have been kept informed about arrangements for the contract transferring to Help and Care. They will have to consent to have their personal details transferred to Help and Care from Evolving Communities so that they can continue to carry out volunteering activities with Healthwatch Wiltshire after 1 June. Evolving Communities will delete all personal details of any volunteer who doesn’t consent to have their details transferred.
What’s next for Healthwatch Wiltshire?
Healthwatch Wiltshire will continue to serve the people of Wiltshire although there might be a slight pause while the new organisation sets up policies and processes. The logo and branding will remain the same and a staff team and volunteers will be in local communities gathering the views and experiences of people who use health and care services.
What will happen to the website Your Care Your Support Wiltshire?Yourcareyoursupportwiltshire.org.uk stays at its current url. The features of the website will continue to develop alongside the adult social care transformation programme.
The email@example.com email will close, and staff involved will transfer to Wiltshire Council Advice and Contact Team.
The email address for yourcareyoursupportwiltshire.org.uk has changed to firstname.lastname@example.org
After a recent tender process, Wiltshire Council has appointed a new provider for the county’s independent local Healthwatch service. The contract has been awarded to Help & Care, a charity based in Bournemouth, who will take over the service from 1 June 2018.
Healthwatch Wiltshire is the county’s independent health and care champion and it exists to ensure people are at the heart of decision-making about local health and care services.
Evolving Communities Community Interest Company (CIC), based in Melksham, has run the Healthwatch Wiltshire for the last five years. It also runs two successful local Healthwatch contracts in Gloucestershire and Somerset, as well a highly-regarded research consultancy service both locally and nationally.
Chris Graves, Chair of Evolving Communities, said: “Over the last five years we’ve received a very positive welcome, since the establishment of the Healthwatch service in Wiltshire. We have enjoyed a productive relationship with partners that has produced some really innovative outcomes for the people of Wiltshire.
“Most of all we have been amazed by the commitment and support given to us by our dedicated team of volunteers and we hope they will continue to support the Healthwatch vision.
“I am confident that the model of Healthwatch that we provide is a successful one in delivering improvements in health and social care for local people, and we will continue to promote it in Gloucestershire and Somerset.”
Mary Curran, newly-appointed Chief Executive of Evolving Communities, added: “Whilst disappointed with the loss of our Wiltshire contract, I am delighted to have joined Evolving Communities and am now focused on delivering a first class Healthwatch service in Somerset and Gloucestershire.
“We will benefit greatly from the knowledge and experience gained from the great track record of work in Wiltshire.”
The current Healthwatch Wiltshire staff will be entitled to transfer over to the new service should they wish to do so, and Evolving Communities will be supporting them through this process.
Share your experiences of local health and care services and make it better for everyone – that’s the message from the county’s independent health and care watchdog Healthwatch Wiltshire as it celebrates its fifth birthday on Sunday (April 1).
Healthwatch Wiltshire, along with 147 other healthcare organisations in England, was set up in 2013 as a result of the Health and Social Care Act 2012. Its role is to listen to the views of the public on local health and care services. They then use this feedback to help influence decision-making at a local level, shaping services for the better.
In the last year, the organisation has regularly visited all corners of the county and collected 2495 individual views and experiences. Overall, 46 per cent of feedback was positive, with 424 comments praising the quality of services.
More than 60 volunteers also took part in over 500 activities over the last year and helped to collect feedback from the public.
Lucie Woodruff, Healthwatch Wiltshire Manager, said: “On our fifth birthday, we are really proud of what we have achieved so far in the county. Our staff and volunteers continue to meet the community to listen to what people have to say about local health and care services.
“Everyone who uses health and care services has the right to expect a high standard. In order to help organisations achieve these standards, we need the public’s help. That’s why we actively encourage and welcome feedback.
“No matter how big or small the issue, we want local people to share their stories with us, so that we can share these ideas with those with the power to make change happen.”
Five ways to share your views on health and care in Wiltshire: