CaptureFrom the tears of a clown to a volunteering clown, a serious campaign to encourage more people to come forward as community Champions has been mounted by Healthwatch Newcastle.

The health and social care watchdog is recruiting positive ambassadors to act as the organisation’s eyes and ears in the community, gathering information about health and social care issues. Their volunteering roles are varied, including helping out at events, manning information stalls, telling people about Healthwatch Newcastle and circulating leaflets.

Melanie Bramley, Volunteer and Outreach Coordinator for Healthwatch Newcastle, looks after the volunteers and says that the position is very important to the organisation but it also has its funny side too.

“Our volunteers attend many functions and events and come from all sorts of backgrounds and parts of the city. Volunteers are aged from 16 and there’s no upper age limit. We meet on a regular basis and provide training. The volunteers get a great deal out of working with us including practical experience of teamwork, a better understanding of health and social care provision and they get to have fun and make friends too. We’ve even got a real clown who helps us.”

Indeed they do, Allan Robinson (or Clogs the Clown) from Heaton, has been entertaining people for many years and helps out at Healthwatch events all across the city.

“Being a clown can come in useful at some events, especially breaking the ice to talk to young parents with children. But no matter who I’m talking to, I take my volunteering role very seriously,” he said.

“It’s a great opportunity to meet other people and to help shape the way health and social care is delivered in the city. I‘d urge anyone who wants to make a difference to come along to the information sessions that we are holding.”

“When people see me as a clown, it breaks down a lot of barriers and helps to get information from people who are using local services. This information is then used anonymously to inform to providers and to make things much better for everyone. It’s a real win-win hobby and I personally get a lot out of it.”

Healthwatch Newcastle is currently recruiting volunteers aged 16 and up. Call Melanie Bramley on 0808 178 9282 or emailmelanie@healthwatchnewcastle.org.uk to find out more. Information drop-ins are taking place at:

Lemington Centre – Thursday 11 February, 10am to 12 noon

East End Library – Wednesday 17 February, 1.30 to 4pm