Tue, 03 Sept 2019
HEALTHWATCH West Berkshire (HWWB) has been shortlisted for a national award for its “groundbreaking” work on raising the profile of rough sleeping in the district.
The group has been put forward for the improving health and social care services award, which recognises Healthwatch groups that have used people’s views to make tangible improvements to local health and social care services.
Although Healthwatch West Berkshire is the smallest in the country, it is punching above its weight and has been shortlisted against Healthwatch organisations in Manchester, North Tyneside, Suffolk and Wakefield.
HWWB chief officer Andrew Sharp said: “Our entire team, including our voluntary board members, are immensely proud, as one of the smallest Healthwatch in the country, to see our work recognised in such auspicious company.
“We could not have done this without all the volunteers and wonderfully committed charities working to help the most vulnerable in our community.
“This nomination is as much for them as for our organisation.
“I would urge everyone to contact us with feedback or come and volunteer if you want to see improvements in local health and social care services – your voice counts.”
Healthwatch England said it had shortlisted HWWB for its 2018 report on the experiences of health and social care for rough sleepers in West Berkshire.
Healthwatch England said the report had helped “create real change” and led to The Homeless Strategy Group being created.
The group’s goals are based on the report’s recommendations and brought together charities including Loose Ends, West Berkshire Homeless, Eight Bells and Newbury Soup Kitchen, with the statutory bodies allowing them to work towards common aims.
Their work also helped secure additional government funding via the Rough Sleeping Initiative, as well as working to ensure there is now a health and dental outreach service operating in West Berkshire.
Mr Sharp issued a plea in the Newbury Weekly News recently for organisations and charities to make “one final push” to end rough sleeping in the district by 2020, seven years ahead of the national target.
The local Healthwatch organisations shortlisted for 2019 Healthwatch Network Awards were picked from almost 150 entries.
The winner from each category will be chosen by a panel of external judges and announced at the Healthwatch England annual conference on October 1, at the ICC Birmingham.