portrait of student Rebecca WestTo celebrate Student Volunteering Week (10-16 February), Brighton student Rebecca tells us about her experience of volunteering with Healthwatch Brighton and Hove, an independent health watchdog run by and for local people. Rebecca talks about how volunteering has helped her put what she’s learnt at university into practice.

Why did you decide to volunteer? And why did you pick Healthwatch?
I am in my third year at the University of Brighton, studying Social Policy and Practice. As part of my course, we have to complete a certain number of hours volunteering for an organisation. Due to my huge interest in health and social care, and wanting to look at it as a career, Healthwatch seemed to be the perfect opportunity.

What did you get to do?
The reason I most enjoyed my experience of volunteering was the freedom to get involved with a wide range of issues. I have had the chance to visit a hospital, as part of a project to understand the experience of being in a hospital from a patient’s perspective and what could be done to make it more positive.

I also trained as something called a ‘lay assessor’ which meant I got to visit care services and find out what’s working for people and what’s not. I then helped to analyse what people told us and write it up in a report.

I have also had the chance to work with lots of different people. For example, I worked with Young Healthwatch to understand the issues affecting young people in Brighton.

What have you learnt from volunteering?
Volunteering at Healthwatch has really helped me with my course because it has meant that I am able to put real life situations into my academic writing. Also, when we are discussing theories and concepts at university, I can relate it to what I have done through volunteering, which has therefore meant that I understand the theory a lot more.

What would you say to other students interested in volunteering?
I would definitely recommend volunteering at Healthwatch. It opens your world up to what is really going on outside of the classroom, and therefore you come back to the classroom with a deeper understanding of what you are studying.

Want to find out more?
Volunteers play a vital role at Healthwatch helping the public have their say about health and social care. They currently have seven interesting volunteer roles registered with the university’s volunteering service Active Student. View details of the Healthwatch Brighton and Hove volunteering vacancies and all volunteering opportunities registered with Active Student through our Vacancy service.

Or visit a Student Volunteering Week stall
During SVW, our student volunteering team Active Student will be running stalls on all four campuses where you can get help finding volunteering placements in the local community, and talk to local community organisations about their ongoing volunteering opportunities.

Rebecca, two workers from Healthwatch Brighton and Hove, and the Active Student team will be at the stall at Checkland Foyer (next to Book and Bean café) on Tuesday 11 February, 10am-midday. All stall locations and times at blogs.brighton.ac.uk/careers/2020/01/29/are-you-interested-in-volunteering/