One-stop ‘Reading Voice’ advocacy service to be launched for local people

Posted 21/01/2018

Reading people stand to gain from a new, one-stop advocacy service run by Healthwatch Reading, that will empower and speak up for some of the most vulnerable adults in our town.

Healthwatch Reading has been named as the successful bidder to deliver a new contract providing advocates to a range of people to help them know their rights, have their say, or have someone speak up on their behalf if they are unable to.

The ‘Reading Voice’ service will provide:

  • Statutory Independent Mental Health Advocates (IMHAs), for people who are held under section for psychiatric assessment and treatment, at Prospect Park Hospital;
  • Statutory Care Act Advocates (in partnership with Age UK Reading and learning disability charity Talkback), for vulnerable adults who have no-one else in their lives to help them when social workers are assessing or reviewing their care or safeguarding needs;
  • Statutory NHS Complaints Advocates, for all people living or working in Reading, who need help resolving any concerns or complaints about their NHS care; and
  • Social Care Complaints Advocates, for people needing help to resolve concerns or complaints about adult social care.

Healthwatch Reading has been providing NHS Complaints Advocacy since April 2014, and coordinating the Care Act Advocacy service, since 2015.  Reading Borough Council – which is obliged to arrange advocacy with government funding it receives – decided to bring the four types of advocacy under a new umbrella contract, to ensure people could find help from one single organisation.  After a competitive bidding process, the council awarded the four-year contract to Healthwatch Reading, starting from 1 April 2018.

IMHAs had been provided by the advocacy organisation Seap. Healthwatch Reading will work with Seap to ensure continuity of service for advocacy clients as the new service is launched.

Healthwatch Reading also provides the statutory Healthwatch service, which includes powers to visit local GPs, hospitals and care homes, to ask people about their experiences.

Healthwatch Reading chief executive Mandeep Kaur Sira: “We have a team of more than 10 dedicated and trained advocates able to work with people who need extra time, patience or different ways of communicating such as with Easy-Read materials, Talking Mats, or translators.

“The advocates will ensure vulnerable people are able to understand their rights, and are given the opportunity to speak up about their health, concerns or daily lives. This vital service will be coordinated from an advocacy hub based at Reading Central Library, where our friendly team can take referrals or meet with people dropping in, five days a week.”

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