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Get to know our Healthwatch Sunderland team

Last week Healthwatch Sunderland took to social media to introduce each member of their team and find out more about their role. If you missed out, grab a 'cuppa' and catch up with the fantastic individuals behind the consumer champion for those that use health and social care services in Sunderland.

Anna Gillingham, Engagement Co-Ordinator

"Hi everyone my name is Anna and I am the Engagement Co-ordinator for Healthwatch Sunderland. I joined the team five years ago as the Engagement Officer and soon was promoted to the Engagement Co-Ordinator. My role involves managing the engagement team and co-ordinating the work we are involved in.

Amongst other things this role involves me spending time out in the local community listening to local peoples experiences of health and social care services, (which I really enjoy and possibly favourite part of the role) and then feeding back what we have heard to local service providers with the aim of improving the way things work for the benefit of patients and service users. I am also responsible for recruiting, supporting and co-ordinating our fab team of volunteers – who are the best.

When I’m not at work I love to spend time with my family and friends and particularly enjoy walks to local areas such as our local parks with my handsome Labrador Finn and niece Ife, who are the best of friends."

Wendy Hadlington, Engagement Officer

Clare Render, Administrator

"My name is Clare and I am Healthwatch Sunderland Administrator. My role involves providing all administration duties to the team.

I have worked at Healthwatch Sunderland since the beginning, working with Healthwatch predecessor Sunderland Link.

I enjoy walking, reading, the odd cross stitch and puzzles. I think we have a nice coastline and I find it pleasant just to walk along the beach looking at the waves crashing on the shore."

Audrey Thompson, Engagement Officer "My name is Audrey Thompson, I am a part time Engagement Officer here at Healthwatch Sunderland and have been a staff member here for four years. We are a small, dynamic, friendly team who are passionate about helping to improve health and social care services for the people of Sunderland.

My role is varied and includes engaging with all people across the community to gather views of those who use health and social care services, especially those groups who face barriers in accessing services, the aim being to help make their views known and to inform on services available to them. I have worked in the voluntary sector in Sunderland for many years so feel I have a good knowledge of VCS organisations across the city, this helps me to inform on and signpost to the myriad of organisations offering services across the city.

The most important thing in life to me is my family and friends and their happiness. I enjoy our holidays and social occasions, a walk along

the wonderful beaches of Roker and Seaburn is

one of my favourite pleasures. I am drawn to the sea and love a paddle no matter what the weather is like!

I enjoy reading and meals out with my colleagues which we all agree we should do more often. I think these strange pandemic times we are living in has made me appreciate the small things in life and realise what is really important to me, being happy and being kind!"

Gemma Wilkinson-Rush, Research and Information Advisor

"Hello, my name is Gemma and I have been working at HWS for six years. My role is Research and Information Advisor.

I am responsible for collating all information and feedback received into Healthwatch Sunderland and looking at what trends show to shape the future workload. I am also your signposting lead, this means all queries are forwarded to me, and I will direct you to the most relevant service you require.

Outside of work I enjoy spending time with my wife and daughter and when I do have spare time after running about after my very bouncy, mischievous 3 year old daughter, i love to draw."

To find out more about Healthwatch Sunderland and the work they do, you can visit their website, call 0191 514 7145 or email

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