HelpForce – the new volunteer frontier

A Suffolk trust is to be a test site for developing existing volunteer roles, writes Michelle Boor.

Wast Suffolk NHS Trust , receives great support from members of the local community. 
At West Suffolk Hospital, Bury St Edmunds, and Newmarket Community Hospital, more than 400 volunteers from the local community offer their time to help support patients and staff.
Our volunteers support us throughout the week, including on evenings and weekends. They do a variety of roles, from helping on the wards to gardening. Some volunteers plan activities for our patients with dementia. Others support specialist areas across the hospital such as our operating theatres, the eye treatment centre, and our chaplaincy.
HelpForce is the new organisation set up by lawyer and philanthropist Sir Tom Hughes-Hallett to accelerate and improve the involvement of volunteers in the NHS. It, has chosen our trust as one of 12 acute NHS trusts set to develop new volunteer roles and create a best practice model for volunteering in hospitals and other patient settings.
In 2017 our trust joined an alliance to run NHS community health services within the West Suffolk area, delivering joined up services across acute and community providers. In line with this integration, our voluntary services department is also hoping to develop new community-based volunteer roles. We want to begin supporting those outside the hospital and patients when they return home.
It’s important to point out that volunteers are never a substitute for paid NHS staff. Our volunteers choose to give their time to support their local services and add to patient care. Although many of our volunteers are retired, or former patients who want to give back, we also have a popular student volunteer programme so young people can get involved too.
Volunteering doesn’t just benefit our patients and the community we live in; it also has a positive impact on the volunteers themselves.
  • Michelle Boor is the community volunteers coordinator at West Suffolk NHS Trust

Further reading

Michelle Boor community volunteers coordinator at West Suffolk NHS Trust

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