Making a difference through volunteering
Healthwatch is a small organisation with a big job to do, we couldn't do it without our talented and dedicated volunteers, like Mehvish.
Mehvish Akhtar, aged 20 from Great Horton, started volunteering with Healthwatch in 2014.
"I first heard about Healthwatch when Afsana and Marcella came to Bradford College and told us about Healthwatch and asked for volunteers for the BRI outreach programme. I wanted to volunteer because, at that time, I wanted to be a children's nurse. I thought that being in a hospital environment would give me experience and more confidence.
"When I first started at BRI it was really nerve wracking. But you get used to it in the end because, you know, different patients have different stories to tell. The elderly tend to want to talk more than the young ones, but it's great."
As Mehvish grew in confidence and learned more about Healthwatch, she began to get involved in other elements of our work.
In August 2014 she led a 'walk around' visit to the Children's Wards at BRI, recruited other young people to take part and wrote a report that identified areas for improvement from children and young people's perspectives. Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust welcomed the feedback and has responded with a plan to make practical changes such as updating the decoration on wards and improving facilities for visiting families.
"Being part of those improvements felt great because it showed that the hospital's actually listening to what people had to say. Because it was not just us making those recommendations, we talked to some of the patients and families and they had things to say which we wrote down. So it shows that the hospital is listening to patients and families, as well as us."
Mehvish has now gone on to become a fully trained Enter and View representative. She has worked alongside our volunteers with a learning disability to run stalls at events, promoting Healthwatch and gathering views.