For this year’s Volunteers’ Week (1-7 June), NHS Leeds Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) is acknowledging the contribution its volunteers are making in supporting the local NHS during the coronavirus outbreak.
Over recent years, volunteers at NHS Leeds CCG have been working alongside health and wellbeing professionals to help shape local health services. They have played a significant role in representing the patient voice; planning and delivering training, and helping the CCG to fund and buy (procure) healthcare services.
Volunteers have worked on a range of projects in Leeds, including a project to fund a single citywide social prescribing service; encouraging people to have their say on proposals for urgent treatment centres in Leeds, and establishing the Patient Participation Group (PPG) Network.
Throughout the coronavirus outbreak, the importance of the CCG volunteers’ role in developing local health services remains unchanged. However, with the pandemic interrupting face-to-face meetings, the CCG’s engagement team have been trying out other ways of maintaining regular contact and involving volunteers, including online meetings.
Angela Collins, Governing Body Member for Patient and Public Involvement for NHS Leeds CCG, said: “Our CCG volunteers play a vital role in supporting the local NHS, so it is essential that we’re able to stay in contact with them during these unprecedented times. We recently held our first online peer support group using Google Hangouts, to allow our volunteers to catch up, socialise, and find out what’s keeping everyone busy during the lockdown.
“We received some really positive feedback from the volunteers, who felt that the online format had worked well and were keen to have these meetings regularly. We are aware, however, that not everyone is able to meet up this way. As a result, we’re working together to think of new ways to continue to provide contact and support to all our volunteers, and our wider networks.”
Yvonne Searle, CCG volunteer, said: “I’ve enjoyed getting to know other CCG volunteers and staff at our previous face-to-face peer support meetings and training. It has also been helpful to learn from others’ experiences and knowledge and to begin some involvement with our public/patient feedback role that supports the planning and funding (commissioning) of services.
“Having just started the role, I didn’t know how lockdown would impact my role in terms of feeling part of a team and the lack of volunteering activities. The online peer support is important to me as it continues the team connection – it is also a more casual setting in our own homes! I’ve also been fortunate in that the community mental health engagement which was agreed just before lockdown will continue to some degree online in the short term, until face to face is possible, so we are continuing to get the views of people to shape how the service develops.”
The CCG Engagement Team and volunteers held a virtual coffee morning during Volunteers Week offering people a chance to catch up with their peers.
Find out more about what the CCG volunteers do on the NHS Leeds CCG website, in the getting involved section: www.leedsccg.nhs.uk
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