This month we’re celebrating six years since our launch in April 2013.
We’re part of a network of 152 local Healthwatch working across England, backed with statutory powers to help us carry out our role.
We’re proud of the progress we’ve made over those six years, notwithstanding some budget cuts along the way!
We’ve grown from three part-timers, to a larger team including a full-time chief executive, a part-time Healthwatch manager, a part-time advocacy services manager, three part-time officers, a part-time advocate, and a wider network of freelance advocates who bring expertise from work they also do with Age UK Reading, and learning disability charity Talkback
Our headquarters is based in the heart of our community, at Reading Central Library with a five-day a week helpline and four-day a week drop-in service.
We remain committed to supporting people in Reading, through our free, independent and confidential service.
We are funded by central government via a grant through Reading Borough Council. In recent years the council has not passed this funding on to us in full and has cut the budget (as it has done with many other local services).
Our highlights over the years
2013: We launch to give Reading people greater influence over local services, through engagement projects, visits to services, and information & advice.
2014: We become the local provider of statutory NHS Complaints Advocacy, to help people resolve complaints, in addition to our core Healthwatch work.
2015: We become the local provider of statutory Care Act Advocacy, in partnership with other local charities, to help vulnerable people have their say.
2018: We become the local provider of statutory Independent Mental Health Advocacy, to support ‘sectioned’ mental health patients at Prospect Park Hospital.
We also start providing Social Care Complaints Advocacy for adults raising concerns with the council.
2019: We now have an extensive library of patient and public experience, with more than 100 reports on topics ranging from GPs, A&E, care homes, maternity services, home care, mental health hospital wards, the ‘seldom-heard’ and more.