Grants awarded to six local organisations to improve information and signposting

Six Essex charities are set to benefit from additional funding for their information and signposting services, thanks to the Healthwatch Essex Fund, in partnership with the Essex Community Foundation (ECF).

Organisations from the community and voluntary sector were asked to bid for the funding and were awarded the grants based on how they would improve people’s experiences of health and social care in Essex through improved provision of information, advice and guidance.

The pioneering sight loss charity Support 4 Sight was awarded £8,652 to support the Eye Clinic Information Desk at Broomfield Hospital in Chelmsford and provide an Eye Clinic Liaison Officers to help people deal positively with their condition and work towards achieving independence, restored self-confidence, emotional wellbeing, sense of identity and quality of life. They will also help develop a support system, where people can talk to others about their concerns, including opportunities for social interaction and experience-sharing with peers.

Mind in West Essex was awarded £7,000 to employ a Community Awareness and Information Officer to provide advice on mental health issues across Epping Forest. The role will ensure more information about mental health is made available via libraries, GPs, colleges and aims to improve uptake in people accessing early support for their mental health in turn leading to improved recovery.

Teen Talk has been given £7,000 to expand an outreach service from three to four sessions a week, providing information, advice and guidance to young people on issues affecting their health and wellbeing. The current service reaches young people who present with issues relating to sexual, physical and mental health.

St Helena Hospice will look to update their clinical literature with the £5,000 awarded to provide guidance and advice for families across north Essex. The main benefit will be widening access to hospice support through better information that is easy to understand and is more accessible to people when they need it. This project will ensure that patients, families and healthcare professionals have a better understanding of what the hospice can offer and how it can be accessed.

Citizens Advice Rochford and Rayleigh (CAB) was awarded £9,890 to provide an advice service about social care funding and payments. People will be able to make face-to-face appointments to get holistic and independent advice on a wide range of issues including debt, housing benefits, relationships and family issues.

Voluntary Action Epping Forest has been given £6,832 which will help train and mentor volunteers to reach more people in the community, especially those in deprived and isolated areas.

David Sollis, Chief Executive at Healthwatch Essex said “One of our key roles is to provide first-class signposting and information services to the public. We do this by forging close links with the voluntary and community sector which has specialist knowledge of their communities. This funding will allow them to assist people more effectively and we are really proud to be able to support them.”

The Healthwatch Essex Information service is available to anyone who needs to access health and care services for themselves or their friends or family in Essex.  Since launch, it has helped 5,000 people, averaging 220 calls a month.

People can contact the Information Service on 0300 500 1895 or at [email protected].