One of Healthwatch Camden’s roles is to support people to get involved in how services are planned and managed. This can be anything from joining a one-off focus group to sitting on a committee or board. We often get asked to find someone to join a reference group or a procurement panel. Most of this activity is for volunteers, some of it offers a payment or a voucher. We always share these opportunities via the weekly Info Digest, which can be viewed in the ‘news’ section of our website, but we also want to do something more active about them.
We want to build a network of Healthwatch Camden associates, who can offer a patient, service user or carer perspective on committees and working groups. We know that Camden has a lot of very well informed people and we’d like to make the most of the wealth of knowledge and experience in the borough.
We’d like to hear from you if you are interested in getting involved in a particular area of work. For example, we’re currently being asked to contribute to work on sexual health, and child and adolescent mental health (CAMHS) and on staff training.
We’ll offer briefings as needed, including letting you know what other local people are saying about the topic. We’ll make sure that your individual requirements are taken into account by the providers or commissioners concerned (for example, if you need big print documents or repayment of expenses). In return, we’ll ask you for a brief report on the meetings you attend.
We know that having local people involved in services helps make those services better, and getting varied voices around the decision-making tables in Camden is important.
Getting involved in working groups and committees takes time and commitment, so it’s not for everyone. But we think it is worthwhile; it gives you insight into the way your services are run and it gives you real influence over how they are run. Just as importantly, you can give a voice to other local people who don’t have the opportunity for this direct involvement, making sure their interests don’t get overlooked, and helping to make sure that public money is spent in the most effective way.