Meet The Team
Healthwatch Calderdale 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.
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.
Angela Everson - interim Chair
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.
Administration and data entry volunteer
I help Healthwatch Calderdale with data entry and administration, mainly relating to its NHS Complaints Advocacy Service. I am presently volunteering from home, giving my time when I can. I also help with proof reading reports and collecting feedback from members of the public.
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.
I have been involved with Healthwatch Calderdale since when I met Karen Huntley at an event about Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS) and Hypermobility Spectrum Disorders (HSD). I offered my data analysis skills to support a patient experience survey she was beginning to organise.
The survey was very rewarding work and the resulting report received Parliamentary attention.
One of my daughters has a severe presentation of EDS and, as a consequence of her diagnosis, my wife and I are aware of similar difficulties in other members of our family.
Healthwatch has given me the opportunity to make a difference to the ways in which health professionals and others address the needs of these particular patients and, possibly, those of other patients with rare or rarely diagnosed illnesses or syndromes.
I became a Healthwatcher Volunteer in May 2020. I was inspired to join after giving feedback on their website about a local NHS service. Healthwatch contacted me and I had the opportunity to voice my experience with the service in question. This then formed part of a report undertaken by Healthwatch that led to real life positive changes for other service users. I was delighted!
Currently I am enjoying being part of the ‘hypermobility syndromes project’ led by Karen Huntley. As a fellow sufferer of a hypermobility syndrome (Ehlers Danlos Syndrome) I know first-hand the barriers to diagnosis and treatment that many patients experience. It is an amazing feeling to be part of project that is gathering the real voice of the patient which can sometimes be overlooked.
If you have a few hours each week to spare, it is worth volunteering with Healthwatch. You have the opportunity to be part of a great team and help make some real change.