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Celebrate 10 years of Healthwatch at its annual event in Eastbourne

Have you ever wanted to share your thoughts on the county’s health and social care services – now’s your chance at an event being run by Healthwatch East Sussex this July.

As services in our county continue to change, the ‘Your Voice Counts: Celebrating 10 years of Healthwatch’ event lets you to tell your story of what’s working and what isn’t when it comes to health and social care.

This year’s event has added meaning because Healthwatch is also celebrating 10 years of championing patient voices and helping improve health and social care services for everyone.

By joining the event you can help guide the future of local services, as well as hear about the organisation’s work. It will also include talks from leaders representing East Sussex County Council, Care for Carers, and East Sussex NHS Healthcare Trust.

It’s important to Healthwatch that you continue to let them know when health and care services are working well and when they are facing challenges so they can help improve health and social care services for everyone.

The event is being held at The View Hotel, Eastbourne on 13 July between 1:30pm and 6pm.

For more information, and to book your place at the event, go to Healthwatch East Sussex’s website. Please note that places are limited and will be provided on a first-come-first served basis.

Volunteering: the health and wellbeing benefits of offering a helping hand

Volunteering is about more than helping your community. It’s been shown to improve wellbeing while also giving you valuable new skills and experiences that can boost confidence.

Volunteering in East Sussex is thriving. It happens where you see it, such as in charity shops, and where you don’t, such as neighbours lending each other a helping hand, or being a trustee for a local charity. It all matters, and it all improves our communities and our lives.

To celebrate Volunteer Week (1-7 June) we’re letting you know how you could become one of the 16.3 million people in the UK who volunteered through a group, club or organisation in 2020/21. Find out more about how you can become a volunteer.

Volunteering also provides opportunities and pathways into paid employment through new skills and experiences and building confidence. People can use their skills to support others; for example counselling, teaching, or helping people with their homework.

In East Sussex people who volunteered through a group, club or organisation contributed an estimated 9.6 million volunteer hours in 2020/21.

New app will bridge the gap

The Council is working with The Tribe Project on an app that will support groups and organisations in finding the right volunteers for the right roles.

Due to be launched this September, the app will support volunteering opportunities by allowing people receiving support – and those who support them – to request help from people that live in their community and are volunteers in trusted organisations.

It will help support the work of Rother Voluntary Action (RVA), Hastings Voluntary Action (HVA) and Wealden, Eastbourne, and Lewes Voluntary Action (3VA).

Volunteering opportunities

Most volunteers tell us that in doing something to help others, there’s a reward for them too. It can provide a real sense of purpose when they make a contribution and help to make a difference.

If you’re interested in volunteering but don’t know where or how to start, here are some suggestions on ways you can begin to help out in your local area:

The Volunteer Centre for East Sussex

The Volunteer Centre is a partnership of local organisations and a one-stop-shop promoting, supporting and developing volunteering across the county. The range of volunteering opportunities is huge. Whatever interests and skills you have, there is sure to be something to suit you. What’s on offer at the Volunteer Centre East Sussex

Volunteering at your local library

Volunteers are a valued and central part of our libraries. There are lots of interesting library services you can help out at. Rhyme Time, IT for You, Family History and Code Club are just a few. And our libraries are currently looking for volunteers to help run this year’s Summer Reading Challenge for young people. Find out how you can volunteer in our libraries

Join the People Bank and have your say

Could you help improve and develop council services? If you have experience of getting support from Adult Social Care, or care for someone who has, you can join our People Bank and add your voice to the mix of people helping to shape our services. You can get involved as much or as little as you want to, from filling in surveys, giving feedback on campaigns, taking part in discussion groups, or sitting on project panels. Find out more about the People Bank

Be a good neighbour

Are you interested in being more involved in your local community? Good Neighbour Schemes across East Sussex are looking for volunteers. They offer an opportunity for you to give practical support to people in your community who need a helping hand.

Volunteers help with some of the small things that can make all the difference, such as lifts to the shops, small household jobs, popping in for a chat or walking the dog. And anything else that one neighbour might do for another. Search for Good Neighbour Schemes in your area.

Volunteer through East Sussex County Council

There are a number of ways we can help you get involved with volunteering. This might be working in the countryside, or helping with community transport schemes. Ways you can volunteer with us.

And watch this space. We have partnered up with Bronze Labs, Rother Voluntary Action (RVA), Hastings Voluntary Action (HVA) and Wealden, Eastbourne and Lewes Voluntary Action (3VA) to introduce a new project to make it easier for people looking for volunteering opportunities, and to help organisations find volunteers.

The Tribe Project will promote their volunteering opportunities with residents through an app. Many organisations have already listed their jobs and it will be a useful one-stop-shop for people looking for volunteering opportunities or for volunteers.


There are seven Trussell Trust Foodbanks in East Sussex all of which rely on volunteers and local community support. These foodbanks support individuals and families in crisis with emergency food. Each foodbank is different but they all have volunteers in various different roles. In many the food donations need collecting, sorting, and organising in foodboxes which provide three meals for three days for each family member. These are either collected or delivered. Other roles involve admin, working with agencies that refer people for help, or direct contact with clients. Find out more about the Trussell Trust and your local foodbank

Neighbourhood Watch for your area

People join Neighbourhood Watch for many different reasons, whether it is to improve safety around their home or to become part of a group and meet new people. In East Sussex, every Neighbourhood Watch member is a volunteer – they have no staff and are a not-for-profit organisation. Anybody can join, regardless of their background, and membership is free. Find out the number of ways you can get involved

Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust

SPFT’s Volunteer Service recruits, trains and provides ongoing support to volunteers in a wide range of projects. Volunteers are welcomed from all areas of our diverse community, who feel they have something to offer to help us enhance the service we provide to our service users. Find out how you can volunteer for SPFT

Healthwatch East Sussex

Volunteering with Healthwatch East Sussex is flexible and designed to fit around your life. When you volunteer with Healthwatch you have the chance to make a difference to your local community. Use your existing skills, knowledge and networks to help people be heard in your community; meet new people; and enhance your skills and knowledge. Find out more about volunteering for Healthwatch East Sussex.

Are you feeling lonely? You’re not alone

Loneliness affects most of us at some stage of our lives, whether it’s for a few days, weeks or longer.

There are lots of things that can make us feel lonely, from a job or house move, to having a new baby, going through a break-up, retirement and bereavement. Sometimes it’s just how we feel.

You can also experience different types of loneliness; for example feeling like you don’t have a close emotional attachment to a friend or partner, not having people to spend time with, or being around other people but still feeling alone.

Perhaps you’re feeling lonely yourself right now or know someone who is. There’s no shame in feeling lonely, it’s a natural human emotion, and one of the best things we can do is to talk about it.

That’s what the Marmalade Trust encouraged the country to do during Loneliness Awareness Week (12-18 June). The campaign aimed to get people talking about loneliness and encourage people to connect, and reduce the stigma.

Tackling loneliness in our county is a top priority for us and our partners. In East Sussex the local authorities, NHS, Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise (VSCE) sector and others have worked together on a ‘Connected People and Places’ project.

This aims to better understand the nature and impact of loneliness on local people and find ways to help address the problem. The findings and recommendations of this work will be published during July in the annual report of the Director of Public Health at East Sussex County Council.

Taking steps to make connections

Feeling lonely for a long time can impact our health and wellbeing, so it’s important we all take steps to help if we, or others, are experiencing loneliness.

Seeing a friendly face can help make us feel much less isolated, so one of the best things you can do is reach out and connect with other people. Whether that’s having regular chats with friends and family, joining a group or a club, or spending more time doing things you enjoy,

Even if you’re not experiencing it yourself, reaching out for a chat or a cup of tea could help lift someone else out of loneliness.

In East Sussex there’s lots of opportunities to help you connect more with others. Here are some examples and ideas:

For more advice and support on loneliness take a look at the Marmalade Trust’s Guide to loneliness, and find a wealth of advice and practical tips on the NHS website.

#LetsTalkScreening for Cervical Cancer Awareness Week

Around one in three people in East Sussex have missed their potentially life-saving cervical screen, figures show.

While more than 100,000 people in East Sussex have had a cervical screen during the last five years, nearly a third of those eligible for a smear test have not taken up their appointment.

To mark Cervical Cancer Awareness Week (19-24 June), the East Sussex Public Health team supported the Let’s Talk Screening campaign from Jo’s Trust, the UK’s leading cervical cancer charity.

This year the awareness week highlighted the importance of the screening programme and encouraged more open discussion about people’s cervical screening experiences with the aim of increasing the uptake of people attending their appointments.

What to expect during your appointment

Screening helps prevent cervical cancer by checking for a virus called high-risk HPV which causes nearly all cervical cancers.

Women aged between 25 and 49 are invited for a cervical screening test every three years and those aged 50 to 64 are invited every five years.

A cervical screen appointment lasts around 20 minutes, with the test itself taking on average only around one to two minutes to complete.

Information about attending a smear test, including what to expect and tips to make a screening appointment easier, is available on our Your East Sussex website.

More information about cervical cancer and cervical cancer screening is available from Jo’s Trust at or by calling 0808 802 8000.

Rise in measles cases highlights importance of MMR jab

Residents across East Sussex are being urged to check they are up to date with their MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccinations following a national rise in measles cases.

Public health officials are encouraging people to protect their communities by making sure they, and their children, have received the MMR jab which protects against measles, mumps and rubella.

This is particularly important if you are planning on travelling this summer and before attending summer festivals where measles can spread more easily.

Measles is a highly infectious disease that can lead to serious complications and on rare occasions long-term disability or death. Symptoms include a high fever, sore red watery eyes and a blotchy red-brown rash.

Between 1 January and 20 April this year, there have been 49 cases of measles nationwide compared to 54 cases in the whole of 2022. Last year, between July and September, more than 260 children in East Sussex missed one or both of their MMR vaccinations meaning they are not protected against the illness.

Large outbreaks of the illness have been reported in Europe and officials are also advising people to check their MMR vaccines before travelling abroad to ensure they are protected and to avoid bringing the illness back to East Sussex.

More information on the MMR vaccine can be found at the NHS’ website.

How to stay safe this summer and avoid heat exhaustion

While many of us are keen to enjoy the sunny weather while it’s here, it’s worth bearing in mind that high temperatures can also come with a degree of danger.

Getting outside has many health and wellbeing benefits, but when the temperature gets very hot you should know how to prevent heat exhaustion and heat stroke. This is especially true for children, older people and people with long-term health conditions (such as diabetes or heart problems).

Prevention is a good way to avoid the risks; by signing up to the free HeatAlerts service you can receive a text, voicemail or email when a heatwave is due so you can plan ahead. The service runs annually from June to September.

To protect yourself from heat exhaustion or heatstroke:

  • Drink more cold drinks, especially if you’re active or exercising
  • Wear light-coloured, loose clothing
  • Avoid the sun between 11am and 3pm
  • Avoid excess alcohol
  • Avoid extreme exercise

The symptoms of heat exhaustion are often the same in adults and children, although children may become irritable too. Symptoms include:

  • Tiredness
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Feeling sick or being sick
  • Excessive sweating and skin becoming pale and clammy or getting a heat rash
  • Cramps in the arms, legs and stomach
  • Fast breathing or heartbeat
  • A high temperature
  • Being very thirsty
  • Weakness

If someone is showing signs of heat exhaustion, they need to be cooled down and given fluids. To treat heat exhaustion follow these four steps:

  • Move the person to a cool place.
  • Remove all unnecessary clothing like a jacket or socks.
  • Get the person to drink a sports or rehydration drink, or cool water.
  • Cool the person’s skin – spray or sponge them with cool water and fan them. Cold packs, wrapped in a cloth and put under the armpits or on the neck are good too.

Stay with the person until they’re better; they should start to cool down and feel better within 30 minutes.

If you or someone else has symptoms of heat exhaustion that you’re struggling to treat, or you need advice about, you can call 111 or get help from 111 online.

Recognising heat stroke

Heat exhaustion does not usually need emergency medical help if you can cool down within 30 minutes. However, if the person is not feeling better after 30 minutes of resting in a cool place, being cooled and drinking fluids, you might need to call 999 to get emergency treatment for heatstroke.

Symptoms of heatstroke include:

  • Still unwell after 30 minutes
  • A very high temperature
  • Hot skin that’s not sweating and might look red
  • A fast heartbeat
  • Fast breathing or shortness of breath
  • Confusion and lack of coordination
  • A seizure or fit
  • Loss of consciousness

If someone is showing these symptoms and has lost consciousness put the person in the recovery position while you’re waiting for medical help.

Dealing with hay fever doesn’t need to be a headache 

Around 1-in-5 of us will be affected by hay fever in our lives, so it’s important to know how to lessen symptoms such as runny nose, sore and itchy eyes, coughs and sneezes, headaches and tiredness.

But did you know that you don’t need a prescription from your GP to get hay fever and allergy medicines? Instead, your local pharmacy should be the first place you go to get advice on how to deal with hay fever. If your symptoms suggest something more serious, your pharmacist will ensure you get the care you need.

There are lots of self-care remedies to help manage hay fever and allergy symptoms at home, including:

  • Taking over-the-counter antihistamines
  • Putting Vaseline around your nostrils to trap any pollen
  • Wearing wraparound sunglasses
  • Avoiding triggers where possible, such as grassy areas and flowers
  • Keeping your clothes and house clean to remove any pollen
  • Buying a pollen filter for the air vents in your car and a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter

If you are affected by hay fever, you should stay aware of the pollen count and when high pollen count days (often warmer days) are due, so you can plan steps to minimise exposure such as keeping windows closed in your house, office or car.

One way to do that is by visiting the Met Office website to get a five-day pollen forecast.

However, if you’re experiencing wheezing, breathlessness, or tightness in the chest, if pregnant or breastfeeding and symptoms don’t improve after avoiding triggers, or if symptoms don’t improve after taking over-the-counter medicines, you should call NHS111.

Robopets bringing joy and comfort to people with dementia

A dementia diagnosis can come as a shock to the person with the condition and those around them. But with almost half of the people living in East Sussex aged 50 or older, understanding the signs and diagnosing the condition as soon as possible is key to managing your, or a loved ones, health and wellbeing.

Last year, 5,992 people were living with dementia in East Sussex, but diagnosis rates across the UK have slowed down.

That’s why the theme of Dementia Action Week (15-21 May) this year was ‘Diagnosis’ , with organisations aiming to raise awareness and encourage people and their families to seek a timely diagnosis.

Although it can affect people as young as 30, older people are more likely to be diagnosed with a form of dementia – but identifying the disease can be tricky. Services such as The Memory Assessment Service (MAS) are there to offer an early assessment, diagnosis and treatment of people suspected of developing a dementia.

Symptoms of dementia can include confusion and needing help with daily tasks, problems with language and understanding, or changes in behaviour such as becoming unusually anxious or irritable.

Following a diagnosis, it’s natural to worry about the future, but it’s important to remember you’re not alone. There are sources of help and support for everyone involved on our East Sussex 1 Space web page.

Making a positive impact

To help people cope with the symptoms of dementia, East Sussex County Council has launched a pilot project giving people with early-stage dementia a robopet, which is a mechanical pet that looks just like a cat or dog.

The one-year pilot project started in April and is only the third pilot project of its kind in England.

The Council has homed 50 ‘pets’, with carers reporting the immediate health and wellbeing benefits on the people they care for, including aiding independence and providing companionship to those diagnosed with the condition.

One resident, Shirley, was ‘overwhelmed’ and ‘really happy’ to receive her pet dog. Shirley was given a dog because she had Labradors prior to being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.

Shirley’s daughter-in-law said: “Having the pet made a really positive impact on Shirley and they were inseparable. She got a lot of comfort from being with the pet and took it everywhere, whichever room she was in at home.”

For Shirley, and many of the residents receiving a robopet, it gives them a distraction when they become agitated and/or anxious as their symptoms increase and cognitive powers decline.

The robopet also helped Shirley’s full-time carer, who knew he could start to divert Shirley’s attention by talking to her about the pet. This gave him small amounts of respite at home during the day when Shirley became focused on the pet, which in turn made her less distressed, more relaxed and comforted.

*Please note, as the project is a pilot, East Sussex County Council is not currently accepting new referrals or applications.

Help with Dementia

The NHS has a dementia guide which offers information on symptoms, living with the condition, care and support and how people with dementia and their families and friends can access help.

Report highlights your views on accessing health and care services in East Sussex

Almost 500 of us have had our say on what we like, and sometimes found frustrating, about accessing health and social care services in East Sussex.

The thoughts and opinions of residents have been published in a report by Healthwatch East Sussex following its ‘2022 Listening Tour’ event in Eastbourne.

The report details everything you told Healthwatch during its first face-to-face ‘Listening Tour’ since 2019. It also sets out conclusions and recommendations to support positive change in our health and care services.

Healthwatch East Sussex worked with community groups to capture ‘every voice’ to better understand how health inequalities are impacting people in the county.

People gave their views through surveys, focus groups, one-to-one conversations and dedicated events last October.

Healthwatch East Sussex found that:

  • People’s appreciation of the NHS was clear, with positive examples of support, advice, treatment and procedures. We heard numerous examples of the expertise, professionalism and compassion of staff in the NHS and wider health and care services, as well as staff and volunteers in local community groups.
  • Common frustrations were waiting times, delays and poor communication. Nearly a third of 390 survey respondents were ‘Unsure’ and 7% were ‘Not Confident at all’ about accessing health and care services when they need them.
  • Some health and care services were not easily accessible to those with disabilities or impairments.
  • Specific user groups, such as the homeless or migrant communities, faced barriers when accessing health and care.
  • There’s a lack of understanding among the public about who provides care services locally and the responsibilities of different organisations in commissioning and delivering care.
  • The cost-of-living crisis is having an impact on people’s wellbeing, with just over half of survey respondents more anxious about the future and a third having less ‘good quality’ sleep than before.

NHS dentistry sessions: additional hours scheme

Several dentists in East Sussex are offering extra NHS dentistry sessions for patients who have an urgent dental need.  This ‘additional hours scheme’ aims to increase accessibility to NHS dentistry.

Urgent dental need may include patients:

  • experiencing pain or needing a course of treatment
  • who have had emergency dental care but require more treatment to become dentally fit
  • who need dental assessment or treatment to have hospital treatment.

This scheme is not for routine check-ups for the wider population, but care home residents and those who need to be dentally fit before they undergo hospital treatment, can attend for a routine check-up.

Sessions are held in the dental practice, and care homes would need to arrange transport for residents. Patients do not need to be known to, or associated with, the practice to access these sessions.

More information: