Meet The Team
Healthwatch Kirklees is an Independent charity. We employ a small staff team and are helped by volunteers. Our Board of Trustees oversees and steers our work, members of our board are not paid for their role.
I have been involved with Healthwatch in Kirklees since 2013, and Healthwatch in Calderdale since 2016. When I started in Kirklees, we were a brand new organisation, still finding our feet and understanding the quirks and irks in Kirklees.
We have been on a huge journey that has taught us about how health and care organisations in Huddersfield, Dewsbury and the surrounding areas work and where there are problems and gaps. In Calderdale, we knew more about what we wanted Healthwatch to look like and achieve and we’ve been championing that approach for 2 and a half years.
I am proud to say that the teams have made a tangible difference in areas such as wheelchair services, mental health, maternity and helping people to get to the care and assistance they need. There are areas where we’ve had less success but we want to keep on championing the cause, for example, NHS Dental Access which is still an issue that plagues our local area.
I’ve been Project Coordinator, Director and now Chief Exec and I am still every bit as passionate about gathering people’s views and making them count as I was on my first day. I think health and care organisations are more interested and invested in what people have to say about their experiences, but it’s got harder for us to make what people say count over the last 5 years as everyone has faced challenges around budgets, capacity and resources. We have had to diversify and expand the way that we use people’s voices, and we are constantly trying to be more innovative. I look forward to seeing what the future brings, and thank the wonderful team I work with for helping me to drive things forward.
Jo Budgen - Engagement and Information Officer
I have worked at Healthwatch Calderdale since 2016, and currently work as an Engagement and Information Officer, providing information about local health services in response to peoples queries, helping people to put across their feedback and experiences about the services they use to the people who commission and deliver them, and working on projects of specific relevance to people in Calderdale using their stories and experiences to highlight where change is needed and systems can be improved.
I have lived and worked in Calderdale for 25 years. Previously I worked as a Partnership Coordinator with Sector Support Calderdale supporting a wide variety of community and voluntary groups, and before that I worked for both Bradford and Calderdale Council, and the Action Halifax regeneration partnership.
I have a keen interest in supporting and empowering communities, as well as a specific interest in mental health and neurodiverse conditions.
Karen Huntley - Team Manager
I have worked for Healthwatch Calderdale since 2016. I assist in providing the Independent Health Complaints Advocacy Service, as well as in carrying out engagement projects.
I have worked previously with people with chronic health conditions as an advocate, a wellbeing practitioner, a horticultural therapist and a health coach.
I have lived in Calderdale for 35 years. My key interests are health, nutrition, supporting and empowering people as well as the self-care of chronic health conditions.
Julie Robertshaw - Independent Health Complaints Advocate
I have worked at Healthwatch Calderdale since 2018 as an Independent Health Complaints Advocate. My job is to support, inform, and represent people in Calderdale, who are considering or wishing to make a complaint about National Health Service (NHS) care they or a family member have received.
I help people to find their way through the complaints process by:
• Helping people to express their concerns about the NHS
• Supporting people to access information so that they understand their options and choices with regard to making a complaint
• Offering practical help for example writing letters or attending meetings
• Explaining responses and correspondence relating to a complaint
My work also helps to highlight where there are issues in local NHS services.
Joanne Douglas - Engagement & Information Officer
I have worked for Healthwatch Calderdale since May 2018 and work as an Engagement and Information Officer.
I help provide information about local health services in response to queries from the general public; support people to have their say on health services and feedback their experiences.
I also work on wider engagement projects, using people’s stories and experiences to highlight where change can be made in the health service.
I previously worked as a journalist at newspapers in West Yorkshire and Greater Manchester.
I am a volunteer with the Scouts and am interested in supporting children to get the best start in life, helping young people to be active and engaged in their community.
My areas of interest are in early years and women’s services.
Paul Bridges - Chair
I am the manager of Huddersfield Mission, a local charity serving people, changing lives.
Our services are available to all, but we have a particular interest in the need of those who are significantly disadvantaged or marginalised. I am therefore interested in health and social care as it applies to those with multiple and complex needs who may find it hard to be heard.
In a more personal capacity I have an interest in men’s health issues.
I am a Pharmacist who retired to Halifax after a managerial career with a national chain of pharmacies, during which I spent time in several parts of the country and experienced service with many varied communities. My interest in Health Watch stemmed from some related voluntary work with CAB that extended into the formation of PPI Health Forums.
After retiring I learnt more about the NHS than I ever did whilst working within it, as well as about its intertwining with Social care, Council and Government! Further voluntary work as a governor with an NHS Mental Health Trust was stimulating, motivational and fitted well with Links and its successor, Health Watch. Having had good experience of the NHS and Social Care, both personally and from family contacts, I am delighted to “put something back” where I can and seek to maximise the quality of these services within their realistic resources.
I am the CEO of WomenCentre, an organisation that works across Calderdale Kirklees and Bradford. I have worked as a registered nurse, social worker and probation officer as well as in the voluntary and community sector for the last 20 years.
Enter and View Authorised
I worked in the Civil Service for 34 years until 2007. Since then, I have worked as a carer and support worker with elderly and disabled clients and with young people with intellectual disabilities.
Now that I am retired from paid employment,
I am a volunteer with a number of local services – including the NHS Mental Health Trust and several Voluntary Sector Providers.
As a Healthwatch volunteer, I welcome the opportunity to work in partnership with our local health and social care providers – in order to facilitate the identification and sharing of best practice and make a positive contribution to the delivery of excellence.
Enter and View Authorised Representative
I have been a Healthwatch Kirklees volunteer for the last four years and still find this hugely rewarding. Despite my busy paid role with the local authority, I continue to fit my volunteer work in as much as I can, when I can, because I understand how much of a difference it can make. I became a volunteer to support local people to have a voice and share their experiences. I also wanted to share my knowledge and skills (and learn some new ones) as well as help to share good practice and make improvements to services. When I first started, I was supporting the Enter and View visits, but as time has progressed I’ve also been involved in a variety of projects and pieces of work – all of which have been interesting; thought-provoking and enjoyable and given me the chance to meet a wide range of people and professionals.
Enter and View Authorised
I am a retired Social Worker where I worked with children preparing to leave local authority care. I am now a volunteer for a number of different organisations
providing support to vulnerable people in Kirklees. I am also the Chair and a coach at my local athletics club.
For me Healthwatch is an opportunity to use my experience to influence the way that the systems in the health service work. It is a chance to enable the health and care services to continue to be accessible and understanding of changing individual’s needs.”
Enter and View Authorised
I began my working life as a schoolteacher and during my career have taught on three continents. Since then, for the last fourteen years, I have worked with Age UK in Calderdale and Kirklees as an advocate for older people in their dealings with local health and social care providers.
The reliability and approachability of these providers can be a bedrock in the lives of many older people.
However as a mother, grandmother and now a proud great -grandmother, I know how vital a responsive health and social care system is for all of us.
As a Healthwatch volunteer I hope to play my part in establishing and maintaining the highest standards for providers in our area.
Enter and View Authorised
I have worked for many years in local authority and in the NHS taking a preventative approach to
improving health. I also volunteer with Homestart Kirklees, supporting families with young children. I
volunteered as a Healthwatch Enter and View volunteer because I believe it’s important that we are able
to collect good quality information on how health and social care services are working – in particular that
the views of people using the services are represented, taken on board and responded to. I’m looking
forward very much to getting started – to contribute in a small way to improving services as well as
seeing and sharing some of the good practice.
I joined Healthwatch because its not just my health that matters but everyone’s. Going out and meeting people and getting their feedback helps the service providers know if they are doing a good job or if they need to make improvements, being part of that helps the individual assist in managing their own or family’s health better.Volunteering for Healthwatch has expanded my knowledge, made valuable friends and I feel that I am contributing in a positive way into the whole community.
A minimum of a few hours a month is a small commitment of your free time and all out of pocket expenses are paid as well as being part of a fantastic supporting team.