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Meet Vic Dixon, Research and Communications Officer, Healthwatch County Durham

Updated: Apr 30

Each month we will bring you behind the scenes to put the well deserved spotlight on our staff that help us make a difference to communities throughout the North East. This month meet Vic Dixon, Research and Communications Officer, Healthwatch County Durham (HWCD).


Pioneering Care Partnership (PCP) is proud to host the contract for Healthwatch County Durham the independent champion for people who use health and social care services.

Their purpose is to understand the needs and concerns of people who use services and to speak out on their behalf.

I work full time as a Research and Communications Officer for HWCD and have done this since May 2023, before this I was a Research officer with PCP for two years before moving over to HWCD. Before PCP, I worked as a support worker in supported housing for people with learning disabilities, which really gave me the passion to help others and help them get the best out of life that they can.


Doing research was a bit of a change but knowing that through my research, and PCP in general, this was giving back to the community and working on improving people’s lives, which was important to me. Now as a Research and Communications officer I get to support my team in engagement, research and updating the team news in health and social care, I work behind the scenes quite a lot but I do get to join in with community engagement and attend events with the team to take pictures. I am also in charge of the social media channels for Healthwatch County Durham, which means I get to create posts, graphics and update the public on health and social care news and events in County Durham.


I really enjoy creating lots of different graphics and posters for the team. I also pull together the e-Bulletin which goes out monthly, again sharing health and social care news and updates on what the team have been working on. I am always snapping photos and asking the team for (sometimes) random requests, but it’s great to be creative and to see how far the team will go - I think they’re coming around slowly. However, they are always very grateful and appreciative of what I do for them and they work with me to produce assets for the public, whether it is for the website, physical, social media or the e-bulletin.


Another part of my role is minute taking in board meetings and team meetings and writing them up to send out to the team and the board which can be quite a big task! Recently, I completed my Enter and View training, which is a programme we have within HWCD where we go into health and social services to gather patient feedback and produce a report on what is done well and recommendations to improve, which I have enjoyed getting involved with and being able to engage with the public.


I also work at Together 21 on a Saturday morning with children who have Down Syndrome which is really rewarding and the community that has built around it is really lovely. On a Thursday night I also volunteer for Options Social Club which is so fun, they arrange lots of activities and it’s great supporting the service users. The volunteers and staff are brilliant, and we have such a laugh. They all seem to have a lovely time and I enjoy giving something back.


Every day can be very different within my role. Two days a week I work in the office, then I am usually working from home unless I have meetings to attend or an engagement activity to go to with the team. Every day I like to make sure something goes out on social media, which can sometimes be quite straight forward to do, but sometimes I need to create a graphic and be a little more creative. I do a lot of liaising with the team and the marketing team at PCP to make sure I am on track.


Since starting with PCP three years ago, I felt blown away with how supportive and kind the staff are. I honestly feel like the luckiest person in the world to be part of such an amazing organisation that works so well at improving people’s health and wellbeing. I joined during the pandemic, so everything was based from home and over teams, but gradually as PCP started opening up again it has been a pleasure to see the centre come to life and ‘be how it used to be’ as many of the longer serving staff members say.


I think some of my memorable moments have to be the celebration event we had in September 2021 which was the first time I had ever seen many PCP staff get together to celebrate being able to come together again after the pandemic and I was able to get to meet people I had only seen on teams and get to know people. I really enjoy all of the summer fairs, and Christmas fairs that PCP put on, and if I can I will volunteer to help out. The atmosphere is always so happy and infectious.


Another great moment was the Halloween staff sleepover to raise money for Options which was great fun and a bit spooky but we all stuck together and made it out alive, all for a good cause! More recently when I started with HWCD we had a team activity day out where we went to ROF 59 and climbed the climbing walls. Again, it was lovely to see how as a team we all were so supportive of each other and cheered each other on. We got to test our skills and bravery!


Last September I went along to Kepplewray with Options for the weekend and it was definitely one of the highlights of the year and my time here. We did lots of activities with the members, such as canoeing on lake Windermere, archery, and a lovely campfire the night we got there. It really was so beautiful.


There have been so many great moments whilst I have worked at PCP so it really is hard to narrow it down. I strive to stay with PCP for a long time to come, and maybe one day work up to becoming a coordinator or Project Lead, but not for many years to come yet, as I am happy in my job. There are always lots of opportunity to grow at PCP.


There has been a lot of training I have done since starting PCP, I have done Mental Health First Aid training, Emergency First at Work, I delivered Anti-Stigma training for Stamp it Out for a brief time which was a definite learning experience on how to deliver training, I have done an excel course and a minute taking course to improve my skills in those areas.


In the future I would like more training on how to create better video content and we often have training opportunities come from Healthwatch England which are very helpful so I will keep an eye out for those too.


I think the most rewarding part of working for HWCD and PCP has got to be knowing that as an organisation we are striving to help enrich people’s lives in some way. It might make a small difference or a huge difference to them but it is all important. At Healthwatch County Durham it is rewarding knowing that people have someone to listen to them and someone who is going to work with them to help with health and care services. I really enjoy interacting with the public and finding out about people’s lives.


It is also very rewarding to work with such a wonderful team. Everyone is very supportive of one another and will help each other in any way we can. We pull together as a team well and we even won the Team Bingo (a fun challenge we did over Christmas with PCP) as we all worked out who would do what part and managed to win. We can have a good laugh too amongst the hard work, it really makes going to work so much better! Even if I’m feeling a bit worried about doing something they always put a smile on my face and help me through!


For more about what the PCP offers, visit www.pcp.uk.net, email enquiries@pcp.uk.net or call 01325 321234. And make sure to keep an eye on our vacancies page for opportunities to join our team!

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