My name is Kate Knowlton and I have recently joined Healthwatch Hampshire as the new Lead for Volunteers & Partnerships.
I live in Fareham with my family ( 2 sons, and 3 stepdaughters), and a collection of animals – 2 dogs, 2 cats, fish, a chameleon and a few assorted lizards! The next addition to our family is likely to be a micro pig!
I am originally from the New Forest and moved to Fareham when I met my second husband. We got married in Las Vegas a few years ago, and we love to travel around America whenever we get the opportunity. I do miss the New Forest though but my family still live their so I regularly visit with my dogs to get my fix of Forest, and cows, donkeys and horses clogging up the roads.
When I left school I wanted to be a zoo keeper, but somehow ended up in Insurance where I worked for 18 years. ( This may explain our collections of animals though) It was a pressurised role but it taught me a lot about customer service. Life took a different turn when my youngest son was born with autism. I had a few years off work to ensure I could get the help and support he needed. When he started school I worked as a Learning Support Assistant in a Secondary School, providing one to one support to students. This was an amazing job and I worked in the Technology Department which meant one day was Food Tech, cooking hundreds of scones with the class, and the next was Textiles with numerous sewing machines on the go, and other times I was supporting with IT. There was never a dull moment and I really enjoyed working with the Young People to support them in achieving their potential
8 years ago I joined the Rose Road Association as a Participation Officer for Parent Voice. My role was to create a network of parent/carers and professionals across Hampshire and to then be a platform for their views which we would feed to the Local Authority to improve services for disabled children. As a Parent myself, I understood the battles, and challenges that families of disabled children faced on a daily basis, and I was passionate about bringing positive change. As the organisation expanded I worked on other Contracts such as Independent Support, SEND Information & Advice, Direct Payments and Person Centred Planning, and I have been heavily involved with Volunteers and setting up Parent Carer Forums which seek views from families, and also work alongside commissioners to improve services.
I have worked with a number of Local Authorities including Hampshire, Portsmouth, Bournemouth, Poole and Dorset and every area is unique and has its own challenges. Hampshire is such a large County and needs differ hugely across the Districts. My priority is capturing your feedback, and stories across Hampshire regarding Hospitals, GPs, dentists, care homes and Social Care so that we can ensure the commissioners that run these services are aware of what is working well, and what isn’t working so well.
I am currently planning a Festive Listening Tour, where I hope to visit groups/community centres to listen to you, and capture your views. This is very informal and I can come along with a stand with information, or give a brief overview of what we do to groups. I am really keen on developing opportunities for Volunteers, as I know many of you are also full of ideas on how improvements can be made, and interestingly change doesn’t have to involve spending more money on a service, but local people know what is required in their areas and I want to ensure your voices are heard.
If you have any ideas on organisations, or Clubs I could visit to spread the word about Healthwatch and our work, please do get in touch. Also, if you are interested in Volunteering a couple of hours of your time to join me to talk to people in the local community about their experiences with Health & Social care, please do also get in touch. My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org, and my mobile number is 07967 326034. Please do leave a message if I don’t answer straight away as Im often travelling around Hampshire, but I will get back to you as soon as possible,
I will explain further about Volunteering opportunities in the New Year, but do get in touch in the meantime if you want to have a chat about potential opportunities.