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Be a Champion and tell it how it is

Engagement champions Megan Vickery and Valerie Schofield
Engagement champions Megan Vickery and Valerie Schofield

Staff and volunteers from Calderdale community groups are being asked to sign up as “Champions” to “tell it how it is” when it comes to health issues.

NHS Calderdale Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) in partnership with Voluntary Action Calderdale (VAC) is looking to recruit a new batch of Engagement Champions as part of the Health Connections project.

Health Connections, funded by the CCG, connects the voluntary and community sector (VCS) with the NHS, supporting groups to become sustainable and business ready so that they can deliver NHS services on behalf of the CCG.

The Engagement Champions act as a link between the voluntary and community sector groups and NHS Calderdale CCG to ensure that the views – good or bad – of a wide range of local people are heard when it comes to health issues. A group of Champions is already hard at work but more are now needed.

As part of their full and comprehensive training, the Champions will get involved with engagement and consultation work, acting as valuable conduits between the two sectors.

Dr Alan Brook, Chair of NHS Calderdale CCG said: “All our engagement champions are local people, living and working in some of our most deprived communities or working with some of our most marginalised people.

“By investing in these local people and asking them to talk with their residents or clients, we will be able to really understand those that we seldom hear from. This will provide the CCG and other health partners with a rich picture of local needs, enabling us to provide better services in our communities.”

Megan Vickery, VAC Engagement Worker and lead on the Engagement Champions Project said: “This is a genuine opportunity for people to tell it how it is; their views are being listened to and their ideas really are helping to shape the future.”

Valerie Schofield, an Engagement Champion for Calderdale Crisis Pregnancy Care said: “Being an Engagement Champion provides me with correct, up to date information about developments in the NHS.

“By sharing this information with the people I support, I can help alleviate any fears they may have about future changes to services.  The thing that people really have responded to is knowing that the CCG really wants to hear their opinions.’

Lisa Okonkwo from the St George’s Community Trust added: “Being part of the Engagement Champion project has meant that we have been able to engage with our local community to help shape its future with regards to health and social care services.

“The training has given me more of a focus about how and why we do it, and the networking with other organisations at meetings is invaluable.”

To qualify as an Engagement Champion, applicants must either be a member of staff or a volunteer with a Calderdale voluntary and community sector group.

Training sessions will be held at three centres – Halifax, Brighouse and Hebden Bridge. The Brighouse sessions begin on October 9, the Hebden Bridge sessions on October 14 and the Halifax sessions on November 11. Champions will attend four training sessions in total, all delivered by specialist staff within the CCG.

Anyone interested should contact Megan Vickery at megan.vickery@cvac.org.uk or ring 01422 431094.

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