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Neil Betteridge

Neil Betteridge

Neil Betteridge: Volunteering with Heart Valve Voice

Thursday 29th March 2018

Neil Betteridge is a Patient and Public Advisor for the NHS, an Improving Quality Co-Chair, Chronic Pain Policy Coalition & a Representative for the CRG Specialised Pain Services, NHS England. He works with Heart Valve Voice to ensure that we are optimising our patient advocacy and patient involvement. Here he talks about the benefits of volunteering with Heart Valve Voice.

Deciding to volunteer for Heart Valve Voice could be a life changing decision for you – and for someone living with heart valve disease.

Through my work with Heart Vale Voice, I’ve see the impact volunteers have on the realisation of the organisation’s primary aim: to address the under-diagnosis and under-treatment of heart valve disease in the UK. Through raising awareness and improving understanding of the disease, the charity aims to see real changes made to the process that many patients currently go through.

I also see the impact that not only volunteering has in helping to raise the profile of valve disease but I also see how powerful sharing your story can be. What better way to raise awareness of this disease than by sharing your own experience with others who are going through the same thing? This is where you, as a volunteer, can make a difference.

Heart Valve Voice’s volunteers are people who have had real life experience of heart valve disease – whether as a patient, family member or carer. They are people willing to share their stories, to show how greater awareness of heart valve disease can transform and sometimes save lives.

Getting involved couldn’t be easier. Heart Valve Voice offers a range of volunteer roles. Simply adding your voice to an awareness campaign is a great way to start. If you have the time and want to do more, you can attend fundraising or awareness raising events, which allow you to help the cause but also have a bit of fun at the same time. For those who want to make more of a commitment and be involved in policy and provide patient input why not try the role of an Heart Valve Voice Ambassador in our Patient Action Group (PAG)? You will be a valued member of the organisation, speaking about Heart Valve Voice’s work with local media, community groups, or getting vocal on social media if that’s your thing!

You can be sure the patient voice is taken seriously, as this feeds in directly to the board of trustees. Formed of patients, carers and family members the PAG group helps the organisation focus on what really needs to be done to improve the diagnosis and treatment of heart valve disease. It puts the patient voice at the heart of the charity.

These roles are designed to get heart valve disease, and Heart Valve Voice, better known so more people can get access to life changing treatment sooner.

And there’s no need to worry about what will be asked of you! Heart Valve Voice has developed a wealth of information to support you. The role descriptions tell you in straightforward terms what will be asked of you, and you’ll never be obliged to do anything you’re not totally comfortable with, it’s a promise! They have created a library of useful videos that show some of their current volunteers sharing what’s involved and describing the benefits they get from the role.

Heart Valve Voice also provides training and support for their volunteers so they feel confident in their roles. If you get involved, they will help you become more familiar with the cause, their values and their different projects so that, when you are speaking about Heart Valve Voice’s work, you can do so confidently.

Volunteering can bring so many personal benefits: contributing to the local community, meeting new people, raising awareness about a cause close to your heart, learning new skills, taking on a new challenge - and, of course, having a good time too. Most recently, Heart Valve Voice volunteers climbed the stairs to the top of St Paul’s Cathedral in London in January and they certainly ticked a number of those boxes!

I have been lucky enough to work for, and volunteer with, a range of charities for over 30 years now and can tell you that Heart Valve Voice is certainly one of the most inspiring.

Join with Heart Valve Voice to help with their aim of tackling the under-diagnosis and under-treatment of heart valve disease in the UK.

Your voice will make a difference and could save lives.

Neil Betteridge

12 March 2018