Health and social care champions, Newcastle Healthwatch and Gateshead Healthwatch, are looking to recruit volunteers who want to make a difference to local services. 

Volunteers play a vital role in helping people have their say on health and social care. Volunteering with Healthwatch can help develop skills, gain experience and make a positive difference to our local community. Many volunteers assist in carrying out surveys or attend information events in a support role.

One such volunteer is Raj Nair from Heaton. He’s a teacher with a passion for healthcare and has chosen to help people learn about the dangers of stroke and the warning signs and symptoms.

Raj previously had experience working for the NHS and is interested in health and sharing his knowledge about it. He has a particular interest in strokes and, after taking a speech-language course, has acted as an advocate helping people who have had a stroke deal with their social justice rights.

“I’m really interested in health and improving matters for people in the North East and being a Healthwatch volunteer allows me to do this. I particularly enjoy giving talks about stroke awareness to other community groups and hope that perhaps one day my advice will help save a life.” 

The main stroke symptoms can be remembered with the word FAST:

Face – the face may have dropped on one side, the person may not be able to smile, or their mouth or eye may have drooped.

Arms – the person may not be able to lift both arms and keep them there because of weakness or numbness in one arm.

Speech – their speech may be slurred or garbled, or the person may not be able to talk at all despite appearing to be awake; they may also have problems understanding what you’re saying to them.

Time – it’s time to dial 999 immediately if you notice any of these signs or symptoms. (source NHS)

Healthwatch Newcastle and Healthwatch Gateshead Chief Executive, Siobhan O’Neil, said: 

“Volunteers like Raj do a wonderful job helping us to serve our community as they listen to local people to find out if services are working for them. They support us in many ways and our volunteers play an important role at Healthwatch.”

Healthwatch Newcastle and Healthwatch Gateshead gather and represent the views and experiences of children and adults on our local health and social care services. Analysing and acting upon the feedback provided by patients and the public, they work with providers and commissioners to drive service improvements. Healthwatch works hard to champion the rights of people using the social care and health systems and ensures local systems correctly engage with the public.

Find out more about volunteering with Healthwatch Newcastle or Healthwatch Gateshead: Freephone 0808 178 9282 or email

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