Volunteers’ Week 1-7 June 2020

Volunteers’ Week 1 – 7 June 2020

This Volunteers’ Week we’d like to say a huge thank you to our amazing CCG volunteers and the volunteers across the Borough working hard to get people through these difficult times.  We’ve asked some of our CCG volunteers to write short blogs about their experiences of volunteering for the CCG and why they do it.

Linda Sykes

My name is Linda Sykes and I am a volunteer in various groups within Wigan Borough.

I spent most of my working life in our local NHS, working mainly from Leigh Infirmary, as an Administrator in a variety of departments. As a result of my work here it gave me the chance to become aware of the many types of problems encountered by patients, carers and the general public when they find they need to use the different NHS services available throughout the borough.

I am currently involved as a volunteer on a range of committees, all linked to providing some form of local health care based services. I am an elected Public Governor, representing Leigh East members of the Wrightington, Wigan & Leigh NHS Teaching Foundation Trust, also a member of my local surgery’s PPG (Patient Participation Group) and a very proud founding member of The Friends of Lilford Park!

I am passionate about ‘joining the dots’ between the various local health care service providers in order to try and improve communication and make it easier for patients to understand what services are available, and how they can access them. One of the ways we try to do this is through the WBEG (Wigan Borough Engagement Group) of which I am currently a member and co-chair.

This group is made up of members of the public who have an interest in trying to improve local health care services for the patients and carers who use them.  We engage with representatives from all types of health care services, e.g. the CCG, GP’s, many Patient User Groups etc., and we also link in closely with the hospital – all to try and join things together from the patient or service user perspective.

Before the world was turned upside down by the recent pandemic! One of the projects the WBEG was involved in was speaking to residents across the Borough about digital (online) services. One of the things we talked to people about was Patient Online, which includes the ordering of medication online. We raised many queries and questions around his service, mainly on how vulnerable patients, or those without access to the internet, or who have vision problems etc., would be able to access this. As a result, the new system has been designed to accommodate these issues and the number of patients who now use it is increasing every week.

We are always looking to increase the membership of all of these groups and would love to hear from you if you would like to either join us, or just find out a bit more about what is available. If so, please contact the Engagement Team on 01942 482711 or via shapeyournhs@wiganboroughccg.nhs.uk.

Debra Baxter

I have been a local person all of my 54 years of life.  I have also lived with a disability in that time to.  Even though my life has been challenging at times, I felt that I always had skills to give back to the local community I live in.  After leaving paid employment permanently in 2005 for health reasons, I still believed I had more to give, and I have held several positions in a voluntary capacity.

In 2017, I became involved with Wigan & Leigh Health which in turn led me to the role of Equality and Diversity representative, as my skills on Disability Equality were needed. This also led me to work with Wigan NHS Clinical Commissioning Group on their Equality Reference Group. This group is set up so that public and organisations, primarily those groups in a minority, could voice their opinions on how governing bodies could change and accommodate for people whose’ lives are a challenge and make practice and procedures more accessible for the community.

We have given feedback on the structures the NHS are changing towards and thus to included everyone in society to take a positive role.  My area of skill is regarding people with disabilities, and that through my roles in the community I can be the voice and advocate for everyone who finds life challenging because of their impairment.

Through networking with the CCG, I also offered my skills as a Disability Equality Trainer.  I have worked alongside staff to train them on the effects impairment can have on a persons’ life and how all of society can influence change so that people with disabilities can be included in society and share their unique gifts and skills with us all. Along with my colleague Julia, we have delivered bespoke equality training to public and professionals alike, commissioned by Wigan NHS CCG, to rave reviews.

One said “I have been a disability advisor for 19 years and attended numerous training sessions on the subject.  I have never ENJOYED 2 hours of training or learned so much in 2 hours of training, as I have today by Debra and Julia”.

Thanks to Wigan NHS CCG, my voluntary role to change hearts and minds on the gifts and skills a person with an impairment can bring to a community, can enhance everyone’s life, and we can make an expansive different to society as a whole in a positive way.


If you’re interesting in getting involved to help shape local services take a look at our “get involved” pages.


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