We spoke with Alison Champken-Woods, Chair of Trustees at Thame Senior Friendship Centre about her experience of being a member of the Health Alliance.
Tell us about your organisation
Day Centre for the elderly within Thame and surrounding villages in South Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire. Thame Senior Friendship Centre helps the elderly to maintain their independence and will provide help and support to those who are lonely and isolated.
What is your role within it?
To ensure the charity achieves its purposes as set out in its governing document and is properly and legally managed. Accountable to Charity Commission.
I took over as chairperson in 2017 and it seemed an appropriate way to be involved in the community as I am a retired nurse and felt the skills gained during my career could benefit the local elderly community.
What services do you provide that relate to health / NHS?
The Centre supports elderly individuals and hopefully reduces/delays the risk of those going into the NHS and or social care.
What made you join the alliance?
The Ageing Well subgroup in which voluntary organisations are engaged.
How has being part of the group helped you?
I have been a part of the Ageing Well Subgroup and it is important that the voluntary sector is helping to reshape the ICP by influencing change and making a difference. It has helped being part of the subgroup as being kept up to date with the progress of BOB and the alliance. The voluntary sector and the elderly are going through a very difficult time post-Covid pandemic. A significant number of Day Centres have not re-opened post-pandemic and in Thame, there has been a significant rise in those individuals and families having to deal with dementia.
Have you built your network since joining?
Yes, better connected within Oxfordshire/Buckinghamshire/Berkshire as I would never have met these individuals normally. It is good to catch up on zoom/teams etc. to appreciate what other individuals are doing and the problems they face on a day-to-day basis.
What would you say if you were to recommend it to others?
Good to be kept up to date on changes but also to feedback on services you provide as the voluntary sector is wide and varied. It is important to recognise the value voluntary organisations play in supporting the elderly population. I think it’s important to get views across to both the Ageing Well Subgroup and the NHS BOB ICS as there will be details of ageing well that span a number of the priorities for the ICP. It is important to ensure cross-boundary working to reduce duplication of services