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As we continue to deliver our local Healthwatch service, have you spoken with yours?

All over the country, local Healthwatch services provide a strong voice for all age groups in the community including children, young people and families within a national Healthwatch framework.

FaithAction has delivered the Healthwatch service in Barking and Dagenham for the last 5 years. We are delighted to announce that we will continue to deliver the project for another 3 years.

Healthwatch Barking and Dagenham is the local independent consumer champion for health and care. Local Healthwatches:

  • help people find out about local health and social care services
  • listen to what people think of services
  • help improve the quality of services by letting those running services and the government know what people want from care
  • encourage people running services to involve people in changes to care

We are keen for people to get involved—everyone is welcome and everyone’s story matters. There are a number of ways local people can take part—sharing your views is one way, but there are also a number of volunteering opportunities available as well.

In the coming months, FaithAction will work on building a stronger Healthwatch team of both staff and volunteers to ensure that local people continue to have their voices heard as well as implementing lessons learnt through the pandemic such as new ways of engaging the local population. Residents, voluntary sector groups, and faith organisations all have a part to play.

How and why should faith groups get involved?

At some point in our lives, either ourselves or our loved ones will need to access health or care services and we all want a good quality service. By sharing the experiences of your congregation or community with Healthwatch, you will be contributing to the process of influencing changes and sharing best practice.

There are also opportunities to share what you are hearing and seeing as a faith community. For example, on World Mental Health Day in October last year, we ran a talk show discussion on Building Resilient Faith Communities. During the talk show, the discussion panel—made up of faith leaders and a representative from a local charity supporting young people—shared stories, gave insight about how deeply local communities have become affected by a variety of mental health needs, and shone a light on how faith communities have supported residents during lockdown. They also highlighted the practical help that is in place as the local community recovers. All those involved agreed that mental health issues had increased as a consequence of COVID-19. A staff member from the local mental health trust provided a view from a mental health clinical perspective and the services on offer, and FaithAction’s own Jeremy Simmons spoke about Friendly Places. Watch the talk show here and find out more about Friendly Places here.

Faith groups have a great connection with their local communities and you will come across individuals who are unsure about how to navigate the complaints system, where they can access support services, or how they can share a good or bad experience with to make a difference. Healthwatch can help the community with all of these. Please, help us spread the word.

Remember, every story that is shared brings useful information and insightful evidence to your local Healthwatch as they have a power to challenge decision makers.

Why not connect with your local team and see how you can get involved? You can find your local Healthwatch here.

About Manisha Modhvadia

Acting Manager, Healthwatch Barking and Dagenham

Manisha is acting manager for one of FaithAction’s local projects, Healthwatch Barking and Dagenham. She also plays a part in wider FaithAction work by running focus groups and facilitating events.

She has a major interest in health, having studied Health Services Management at university and completed a Master’s degree in Health Promotion, and has previously worked with various charities involved in health and care.