Healthwatch Stockport would like to thank all our wonderful volunteer members who so often put themselves forward to supporting and contributing to the Healthwatch Stockport work programme, without our members we would not be able to function and undertake the work that we do. In this blog series we will ask questions to our valued members and let you know a little bit more about their story and why they have got involved with Healthwatch Stockport. If you aren’t already a member you can become a member below and see our volunteering opportunities.
Being a member of Healthwatch Stockport can influence the way services are designed and made more effective for people using them.
This episode we look at: Aba Graham
Aba from Stroke Information is a Healthwatch Stockport member and ensures Healthwatch Stockport hear the views from the black and minority ethinic community (BME)
"Over the past 20 plus years Aba Graham has tirelessly strived for equality and justice on behalf of the black community in Stockport by advocating and supporting people into various levels of education, employment and life choices. By doing so she has helped well over 500 people and deterred around 25 people from entering into crime. She has done this with limited funding and invested her own money to ensure its maintenance. Aba has been paramount in educating all sectors of the community providing, awareness training, cultural events and building partnerships. She has co-founded EaICO and Nexus as well as establishing the Stockport Race Equality Partnership. Aba is also advising on race equality for the GMP independent advisory group. Aba is currently a Wellbeing Coordinator supporting 26 community groups to develop their pathway to independence."
Tell us a little bit about yourself?
I strive for equality and justice. This wheels me on to create a platform for those who are marginalised to have a voice to challenge social injustice and inequality within our community. My experience comes with 25 years of pressing for change. Using awareness raising events; educating people about the common good, and specifically being involved in running voluntary and community organisations (since 1998).
I live locally, and a mum with 4 Children, proud adopted Stopfordian from Manchester. The world is broken particularly so for those that journey through adversity. I believe that we can all make a difference.
In your view what does Healthwatch Stockport do?
Healthwatch Stockport is an independent, local health and social care organisation, supporting patients and challenging services to develop and maintain better systems. It also gives people space to have their say about things that affects them within the health and social care.
Why did you get involved with Healthwatch Stockport?
Not being as Involved as I would like but my interest in getting involved is the fact that Healthwatch create pathways to ‘making a difference’. My particularly interest are BME communities and young people, that is why I would like to develop our partnership with Nexus Equality Network, a network that looks at Equality in Practice. I believe that the more we talk about the issue that affects us the more confidence we develop to deal with it and find a resolve.
How long have you been involved with Healthwatch Stockport?
Wow, for at least 9 years, I registered in the early years but not actively participated until recently in 2017.
What is the best thing about Healthwatch Stockport?
The transparency and openness patience understanding and the willingness to listen. They also have fantastic volunteers.
Do you belong to any other organisations or groups other than Healthwatch Stockport?
The diverse project I have being involved in includes BME, wellbeing, and children and family projects.
Until recently, I was the Vice Chair for the Independent Advisory Group for GMP for 6 yrs. I also worked within the Prison service as an Equality Manager, a post I held dear for 8 years, re-educating and pushing the Equality agenda so that Women prisoners can develop their voices and treated fairly.
I am the creative founder for ‘Nexus’ an Equality Network, looking at Equality in practice, and also the founder of EaICO which is an African, and Caribbean Young people and Family Organisation. I also co-ordinate a Wellbeing project for Disability Stockport whereby I manage 26 groups supporting their pathway to independence. Another new initiative I created was to develop a pool of community trainers ‘Aspiring Boldly Associates’, educating community, and organisation on areas of equality and community development. Recently, I was part of a group of Organisations that came together to develop the ‘African and Caribbean Health & Poverty Partnership for Women’.
When not involved in other groups what do you like to do?
Love the quietness of my own company just to recuperate, I do have struggles with ill health but I persevere because I want to do ‘Normal’, whatever that is, so when I am not in work, my quiet space means a lot to me it helps me recuperate my energy. I guess that we all need the space and time to rejuvenate.
What is your favourite meal?
Love my African diet of Spinach in Peanut stew with Butterbeans and Rice, it has all the nutrients and more.
Can you sing?
I believe that I have the ambition too, but whether I am good at it is a different story.
If you had a Health & Social Care Magic Wand – what would you wish for?
My wish will be that Health and social care do not put people on a production line but work with the individual, but not in a one-dimensional way. With small groups can be great as a non- prescribed medicinal offer. Adult and social Care where possible should really work with their communities the Answers are there particularly for Refugees, and also those with Mental Health endeavoring to find a pathway to mental wellness.