My name is Ally Hood, I am the Community Engagement Officer for Healthwatch Plymouth. I have been with Healthwatch Plymouth since its inception in April 2013, where I commenced my employment as an Engagement Worker, organising our presence within the community through drop-ins across the city and attending events. My role has since evolved and now focuses on working with grass root community groups across the city, enabling them to have a voice through our small grants scheme, identifying their experiences and issues with local health and social care services.
I came across MegaReach when two of our small grant recipients had engaged the support of its students to consult with their community group. I was thoroughly impressed with the enthusiasm, dedication + effort of both students and supportingstaff, which I found infectious, encouraging and like abreath of fresh air.
Healthwatch is an independent organisation dedicated to creating “a society in which people’s health and social care needs are heard, understood and met”. MegaReach has been working closely with Healthwatch Plymouth to assist them in the task of identifying the health and social care needs of the local community.
Towards this end, a group MARDiTRePers from the faculties of Architecture, Biomedical Science, Dental and Medicine of Plymouth University piloted a specially designed questionnaire to understand the community opinions to such surveys (as distinct from community concerns regarding health and social care) at a Health and Wellbeing event held in Laira, one of the localities of Plymouth, on Saturday 21st March 2015.
The results of this pilot study helped inform a few changes to a questionnaire that was already being used by Healthwatch Plymouth. The resulting duly amended version of that questionnaire was used to collect the opinions of the participants at the Plymouth Freedom Community Festival of 2015 and 2016, as well as other community events organised by MegaReach in-between, in an effort to identify their health and social care concerns. This demonstrates another instance where MegaReach has worked with multiple community-oriented groups, in this case the organisers of the Freedom Community Festival and the staff of Healthwatch Plymouth, for the benefit of the real people of their local community.
I am really looking forward to continued partnership opportunities with MegaReach, as each of us continue to work for and with, the diverse communities across the City of Plymouth.