We regularly ask our volunteers to reflect on the work that they do and to document their experiences in a blog post.
Hello, my name is Robert!
Robert, CCG Volunteer, November 2020
Hello! My name is Robert, and I am an NHS Leeds CCG volunteer.
The main reason I applied to be a CCG volunteer was to take an opportunity to engage, participate, and contribute towards issues surrounding the community’s health and wellbeing. As someone who has a passion for representing the voices of young people and the community at large, when an opportunity to represent patients’ voices came along, I had to grab it.
Since I have started, I have attended training facilitated by the CCG Engagement Team, as well as attending Peer Support and Patient Assurance Group (PAG) meetings. Also, I have regular mentoring sessions and online volunteer catch up sessions.
I was involved with the promotion and distribution of questionnaires for the Maternity and Neonatal Services consultation in Leeds at the beginning of the year, and I have expressed my interest at my GP practice to attend the Patient Participation Group (PPG) meetings. This hasn’t taken place yet because of the Coronavirus pandemic.
I also attend the CCG’s Access for All Action Group, which aims for a consistent approach in respect of the CCG’s commissioning responsibilities in relation to:
- Compliance with the requirements of the Accessible Information Standard
- The provision of reasonable adjustments relating to disabled people
- The provision of interpretation and translation services for people whose first spoken language is not English.
- Stigma and discrimination experienced by some communities
- Other barriers to accessing healthcare services
What I have learned as a result of my volunteering is that the patient’s voice is vital in the process of planning, commissioning, and delivery of health and wellbeing services, and that various individuals and groups can, in a voluntary capacity, play an important role in shaping health and wellbeing services in Leeds and the country in general.
I’m impressed and inspired by the knowledge and understanding of volunteering colleagues on all matters related to patients’ needs, good practice, and health and wellbeing services in general and through that, I have opportunities to learn more every day.
I think that involving volunteers in the work of NHS Leeds CCG (and the NHS) is important because volunteers bring perspectives gained from the patients, based on their lived health and wellbeing experiences, and as the users of services. The volunteers enhance NHS Leeds CCG’s capacity to understand patients’ needs and evaluate the efficiency of services provided.
Outside my volunteer role, I am involved with the local gospel music scene as a guitar player, as well as a member of the worship team at my local church (Bridge Community Church), which has a very diverse congregation and members. I am also involved with Voluntary Action Leeds with a special interest in the work of Leeds Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) Hub and Young Lives Leeds.
Fancy a Game of Tag?
Fe, September 2020
To tag, or not to tag….? That is the question. The answer? Tag, but not in places without permission! I’m not sure this sentiment will catch on with most taggers, but Little Woodhouse Community Association were willing to try – with a wall art project designed to encourage taggers to do something more positive with their tagging “art”.
It has taken over a year to get to the mural stage. I should mention this project is in my gaff, so I’m particularly proud of it. I’ve been involved with the movement to deal with tagging from the beginning, but intermittently due to all of my many voluntary commitments.
One of the committee members, a lovely lady called Garance was determined to get the project up and running, which she did. Lockdown was frustrating, but we kept the process going as best we could via emails. Lots and lots of emails! When it looked like incarceration was going to be lifted, we got ready and the minute it was lifted, we cracked on with gathering everybody and everything we needed in place, to get going with the wall.
It was such a beautiful thing to see people want to help in whichever way they could. Local businesses – like Joseph Wells, and local delis and coffee shops. St George’s Church and The Crypt, who all helped with spaces, discount drinks and food, filming locations, and agreeing to be interviewed. It was a genuine community come-together. I met people I didn’t even know we’re in my community, which is always a plus.
We had three days to complete the project. The taggers worked so diligently, being coached by the artist. Garance was the project manager of all project managers. A Godsend! My crew was me a camera/filmmaker and my friend as the photographer doing our guerilla filming. The weather took a turn for the worst a couple of days, but we worked around it. It was hectic, but so much fun. I was absolutely zonked afterward, but still with a big smile on my face.
My intention to do the video was to show people what we are doing and to inspire and encourage other communities to do the same. I am a lover of art and the arts and think it should be documented, along with the artists whenever there is an opportunity to do so, but this project was extra special because it was about a community pulling together to do improve their environment using a positive alternative to solve an ongoing problem experienced by many communities in the country and beyond.
Community projects are where my heart is. They give you the most rewarding feeling and getting to know the people you live around is always a great thing. We’re always too busy to connect with people, which is to our detriment in many ways.
I fully enjoyed the start of this journey and I’m looking forward to the rest of my Gulliver travels into street art and tagging.
Ooo, by the way. I’ve started creating my own tag. Fear not people. I’m not going to set about the streets of Leeds and start spraying! I’ve learned from the taggers what tagging entails and it is actually an art form combined with calligraphy. Me being an art nutter, I had to check this out for myself and it is incredibly intriguing.
Hope you enjoy the video. If anybody wants to give feedback, please do. We are collecting people’s feedback as this will help with future street art projects. If you get the opportunity to see the wall live, do go down and have a look.