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Healthwatch Westmorland and Furness: May news from your local health and social care champion!

Welcome to the May edition of our newsletter. We've had a busy few weeks attending events such as the Grange and Lakes ICC Health and Wellbeing event as well as hosting the Eden Community Forum. We also concluded our first birthday celebrations with a brilliant open day at our Barrow office. Also, we have a new vacancy for an Engagement Officer to join our team, take a look at the description, if you think you're a good fit, we'd love to hear from you!

We are One
Healthwatch Westmorland and Furness first birthday event

Celebrating our 1st Birthday!

The 29th April may have been a grey day outside but that didn’t stop us from having a wonderful day of celebration, conversation, and not forgetting the cake! The Healthwatch Westmorland and Furness team held an open day at our Barrow-in- Furness office to celebrate our first birthday.

We welcomed visitors from various organisations including; Autus, CancerCare, Westmorland and Furness Council, National Autistic Society, Cando FM along with members of the public. This was a fantastic opportunity for us to connect with local representatives and share thoughts on where we would like to see change. As well as meeting and chatting with the Healthwatch team, attendees could have a go on our spin-the-wheel to win a prize, find out about our volunteer opportunities, and leave feedback on local social and healthcare services, all while enjoying a tea or coffee with a slice of cake.

Read the full article.

April's Eden Community Forum

Our Community Forum goes from strength to strength, bringing together members of the public, the voluntary, community, faith and social enterprise sector, councillors, local NHS staff, and representatives of north Cumbrian hospital trusts and the Integrated Care Board.

Our latest forum took place in Penrith on April 26th and included presentations from: Akila Knight of North Cumbria Integrated Care’s (NCIC) Wellbeing Service, on the service’s work in the community; David Morris, Cumbria Sexual Health Outreach Worker on STIs and contraception; Updates from North East North Cumbria Integrated Care Board (NENC ICB) and NHS trusts; update from us on our Adult Autism Pathways, and dentistry projects.

Twenty-three people joined us, and presenters had lots of engagement from the room and from those joining us online. Issues raised by guests and responses from speakers will shape topics covered in our next forums.

Read the full article.

Engagement officer, Lisa, at CANDO FM
Engagement officer, Lisa, at CANDO FM

Did you hear us on the radio?

On the 14th of April, Lisa, our Senior Engagement Officer, was very excited to be invited as a guest on the Furness area’s community radio station, Cando FM. Lisa joined them for their weekly show “Autism and Us” taking about our recent project, Adult Autism Pathways.

The Sunday afternoon show, hosted by Emily Duran and Alex Taylor features a guest each week with a connection to autism, from those who share their own experience of being autistic to members of local organisations that provide support for autistic individuals. Recent guests have included members of the National Autistic Society, a local autistic mental health councillor and The Library Service.

As well as talking about the project, she also spoke about her personal experience of having a loved one who is on the autistic spectrum.

Of the experience, Lisa said

“I thoroughly enjoyed being a guest on the show, Emily was amazing, she made me feel very welcome and put me at ease straight away. It was great to be able to let people know about the great work Healthwatch Westmorland and Furness are doing in the local area. Once our project has concluded, we have an invitation to go back on the show to share our findings and the impact it could have for the future of assessing and diagnosing adults with autism within Westmorland and Furness.”

Autism and Us airs every Sunday between 2 - 3pm.

Listen here.

Planning for the year ahead

Healthwatch Westmorland and Furness is an independent, community-based organisation for the people of Westmorland and Furness. We exist to champion the views of patients and people who use health and social care across the local authority area of Westmorland and Furness, with the goal of making services better and improving health and wellbeing.

To ensure that we are addressing the needs of local residents, each year we agree a set of priorities and develop a workplan. Every year our top five priorities are presented in our annual report. For 2024-25 they are:

  • Increase our impact
  • Innovative engagement
  • Engagement officers are subject experts
  • 'Health and wellbeing' events
  • Grow our volunteer team across the county

The following is an outline of this year’s workplan:

April to May the focus will be continuation of Adult Autism Pathways: We will listen to the experiences of adults diagnosed with Autistic spectrum disorder and investigate the local care pathways available after diagnosis. 

From June to end of August the focus will be Disability Voices / Accessibility Follow-up: Revisit the projects to deliver next steps and push for positive change based on recommendations.

Between September and December the main core project will be Women: The specific topic will be chosen by the public. We will undertake creative engagement to get involvement and obtain views in different formats.

January to March the focus will be Dentistry: In March 2024 we delivered a survey in Eden as part of the North East North Cumbria Healthwatch network.

Find out more.

Grange and Lakes ICC Health and Wellbeing event
Grange and Lakes ICC Health and Wellbeing event

Grange and Lakes ICC Health and Wellbeing event

Senior Engagement Officer, Lisa, and Volunteer Co-ordinator, Michelle, along with Volunteer Rosemary attended the Grange and Lakes ICC Health and Wellbeing event at Ambleside Parish Centre on Tuesday 16th April. We were one of many organisations promoting health and wellbeing opportunities in the local area. To encourage people to sign up to our newsletter (welcome to those new readers!) we held a guess the number of pasta pieces in the jar. The winning number was 287 and the closest guess of 299 was made by Liz, a member of the mental health team at Lancashire and South Cumbria Foundation Trust who won a gift voucher.

During the event we made some key links with other local organisations and individuals who are willing to be Community Champions for us. We also spoke to members of the public about our latest project, Adult Autism Pathways, as well as finding out about your experiences of health and social care appointments. If you are interested in finding out about becoming a Community Champion or would like to explore our other volunteering opportunities, you can find out more by clicking the button below.

Volunteer with us.

*We are hiring!*

Could you be our new Engagement Officer?

Ready for a new chapter?
Ready for a new chapter?
Are you a people person who is a great listener? Would you like to join a wonderful team making an impact with healthcare services in your local community? We are looking for an Engagement Officer to join our team.


For this role we are looking for:

  • someone who is empathetic and sensitive to people’s life experiences and challenges, able to connect with hard to reach and seldom heard groups.
  • A collaborative team member, someone who can work closely with others to provide consistent, effective and timely delivery of tasks, projects and events.
  • Someone who is resilient, confident and a self-starter when it comes to your own work, as well as being able to think creatively about how to tackle a challenge.

If you’re interested in the role and think you’d be a good fit, we’d like to hear from you.

If you would like an informal chat about the role please email manager Kate at [email protected] or call 01228 474700.

Find out more and apply.

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