Youth volunteering in hospitals
Pears #iwill Peers
Pears #iwill Peers
Thanks to the #iwill Pears Peers network of NHS Trusts and their respective charities for sharing their experiences, ideas and resources so freely and openly:
- Airedale NHS Foundation Trust
- Birmingham Women’s and Children’s NHS Trust
- Cambridge University Hospitals
- Cardiff and Vale University Health Board
- Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust
- Chesterfield Royal Hospital NHS Foundation Trust
- Dorset County Hospital NHS Foundation Trust
- East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust
- East Sussex Healthcare
- Edinburgh and Lothian Health Foundation
- Hull University Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust
- Imperial Health Charity
- King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust
- Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust
- Manchester University NHS Trust
- North West Anglia NHS Foundation Trust
- Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust
- Nottingham Hospitals Charity
- Royal Bournemouth NHS Trust
- Royal Free NHS Foundation Trust
- Sheffield Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust
- South London and Maudsley NHS Trust
- Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust
- University College London Hospital NHS Foundation Trust
- University Hospitals, Bristol
- University Hospitals of Derby and Burton NHS Foundation Trust
- University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust
- University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust
- West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust
- Yeovil District Hospital NHS Trust
This page is for those setting up or running youth volunteering programmes in hospitals.
You’ll find learning and resources from 30 NHS Trusts and their respective charities, who have been welcoming young volunteers since early 2018.
We also want to collect examples of what others are doing, in particular how hospital volunteer coordinators are responding to the challenge of Covid-19, to help inform and support volunteering in NHS Trusts.
Learning so far
The following ideas are examples of how our network of 30 NHS Trusts are working with young volunteers during Covid-19. You can also find examples of role descriptions in the Covid-19 resources section below.
Young peoples’ enthusiasm to help is striking – one Trust has 170 new volunteers, 60 of which are young people (16-25 year olds) who applied to volunteer through the Trusts’ website to help the response to Covid-19.
Offering out roles to their more experienced volunteers. One young person has taken on the role of Senior Volunteer in a Trust, supporting new volunteers of all ages, and has been ‘outstanding’ according to this Trusts’ Volunteer Coordinator.
Training new cohorts of ‘Response Volunteers’. One Trust ran a training day for 19 people, 11 of which are Young Volunteers, who are now covering 75% of the available shifts at this Trust.
Diverting volunteers to other, local volunteering opportunities (e.g. helping neighbours with shopping or having phone calls with vulnerable members of their community).
Redeploying volunteers to other internal opportunities, for example: referring volunteers who drive to their estates department; distributing donations and surgical masks (with strict guidelines about distribution onto the wards); supplying food and drink for staff in isolation wards.
Assigning people roles on the day based on need – for example, one Trust’s volunteers are helping with a ‘rainbow trolley’ which distributes toiletries to patients around the hospital
Implementing fast track recruitment processes: One Trust recruited four Chaplains in a week; another Trust has created a fast track system and are managing to process volunteers as quickly as 2 to 3 weeks, including a police check.
One Trust ran a training day for 19 people, 11 of which are Young Volunteers, who are now covering 75% of the available shifts at this Trust.
Offering remote volunteering opportunities such as:
Pen pal volunteering – including both writing to patients and enabling the exchange of messages between patients and their families
Creating activity packs (e.g. crafts, crosswords, themed quizzes, care bundles) that can be distributed to patients
Making wellbeing packs for staff and patients
Encouraging volunteers to make things that can be distributed to patients
Engaging young volunteers as remote ‘technical advisors’ for patients and visitors to communicate virtually – for example, talking patients through the set-up of hospital-loaned tablets and helping patients access music.
Some young volunteers have experience of acute healthcare, either personally or within their families. This is often a motivating factor for volunteering in healthcare settings, but places them in the vulnerable category in the current climate. Investing time and effort in ongoing communication and dialogue with young people is therefore an immediate priority. This could include asking young people what they might want to do, as well as putting volunteers into teams and informing them if there are any opportunities to volunteer on a particular day.
Setting up WhatsApp groups to help volunteers stay connected.
Re-initiating relationships with previous cohorts of young volunteers.
Preparing for the recruitment of young volunteers when things return to normal, especially as the return of older volunteers is likely to be much slower.
NHS England and NHS Improvement’s advice on youth volunteering is:
Many NHS trusts across England run specific youth volunteering programmes, enabling young people to give back to their communities and increase their skills, confidence, wellbeing and career opportunities in the process. NHS Trusts are encouraged to continue with Youth Volunteering Programmes where possible and where this can be done so safely, managing any risks in line with local business continuity plans and trust policy. Trusts should consider building in additional resilience support and check-ins for any continuing hospital-based activity and should highlight sources of support young volunteers can access.
Trusts are currently managing risks in the following ways:
Training – examples include 2-3 hours online training via zoom or face-to-face (with social distancing). One volunteer is supporting the pharmacy with home deliveries and had local induction training alongside the hospital’s standard volunteer training.
Volunteers are always briefed at the beginning of their shift as things continue to change on a daily basis
Debriefing at the end of shifts for feedback and a welfare check
Buddying up new volunteers with someone who has done at least a few shifts, usually a senior volunteer or someone with experience
Keeping all roles non-patient-facing for the moment; introducing a ‘mealtime and video call’ role with volunteers after a successful trial
Guidance and briefing sheets ensure volunteer safety and infection prevention – including wearing masks in clinical areas.
Pears #iwill Peers have raised four things that would support their work. Here’s what they are and how we’re responding.
1. Guidance: Clear and unambiguous guidance on what hospitals should and shouldn’t be doing regarding their youth volunteering offer, particularly if and how they can continue to work with under 18s.
NHS England and NHS Improvement’s advice on volunteering can be viewed here. They state “We do not recommend that all volunteer services are suspended during this time but rather that the risks are effectively managed in line with NHS guidance and with your own local business continuity support and emergency response plans.”.
You can read more about how other Trusts are managing risk above and through this example of a Volunteer Declaration form, from West Hertfordshire Hospitals.
2. Sharing of resources and ideas.
Please do continue to share resources and ideas that are working for you, so we can keep this page up to date. In particular, people are interested in:
Ideas for how to involve under 18s
Ideas for how to support older, vulnerable volunteers
Generic volunteering role descriptions to help with fast track recruitment (see Covid-19 resources, below)
Remote volunteering tasks that are working well with young people (see ideas for working with young volunteers during Covid-19, above)
People have also expressed interest in a Buddying scheme between Trusts so that they can reference each other when putting forward ideas. If you are interested, please get in touch with email@example.com
3. Support for volunteer project managers: A support system (e.g. zoom calls) for volunteer project managers to connect and share concerns and ideas, and provide an opportunity to celebrate successes/things people are proud of across the network.
We are running regular zoom calls for the Pears #iwill Peers. If you would like to take part, please get in touch with firstname.lastname@example.org
4. Accessing funding: Both for the current cohort of young volunteers to carry on their placements, and for embedding young volunteers in future plans.
Funders of the current work (Pears Foundation, The National Lottery Community Fund and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport) are working closely with IVAR and the 30 NHS Trusts already funded to offer flexibility and variation of funding where needed.
We hope to create additional resources and guidance regarding the funding of NHS Volunteer Services in the coming weeks.
Many of the following resources are examples shared by partner trusts. They provide a good starting point and should be adapted to your local context.
With thanks to the Pears #iwill network of hospital trusts, who have shared the following resources in the hope that others may find them useful – both within the network and beyond.
It has been an incredibly moving experience to see how young people have responded, adapted and grown in this unfamiliar world we are currently in.
Volunteers in West Hertfordshire Hospitals are asked to read and sign this declaration to show they understand what they are undertaking by being a response volunteer at this time.
Volunteer Team Shifts Template
A template from Dorset County Hospital, for managing volunteer shifts to meet a set of objectives including distributing masks, donations, laundry bags and thank you letters.
Recruiting young volunteers
Quick tips on recruiting young volunteers, developed from discussions with the Trusts involved in the Pears #iwill project.
Engaging stakeholders in your hospital
Some tips for those interested in finding ways to engage with the Board; hospital staff; and the local community.
Developing policies and procedures
This guidance developed by one hospital trust covers things like background checks; managing risk; insurance and indemnity; and encouraging continued engagement. It draws on the practices of organisations working with children (under 16s) and young adults (16-18s).
[Our programme] is flexible and accommodates school and college commitments/A level exams
Junior Volunteering Toolkit
This toolkit will enable other Trusts to help set up and develop their own Junior Volunteering projects (for those aged 10-16).
The Junior Volunteering programme developed at Birmingham Women’s and Children’s NHS Foundation Trust, is designed to provide a ‘triple benefit’: to individuals, communities, and patients, families and staff.
Tips on supporting young volunteers
Quick ideas from other Trusts on how to support your young volunteers once they’re up and running.
A positive volunteering culture is set by the board and they play a role in embedding volunteering – making it integral to what the organisation does
Health and social care students are required to do a minimum of 100 hours in health care placements. This can provide a regular flow of applications to volunteer.
Entrance and exit questionnaires
One of the important ways of showcasing how the ‘power of youth’ has made an impact in your Trust, is through measuring the benefits of volunteering. These questionnaires developed by one of the Trusts involved in the Pears #iwill project offer a template to capture the impact of young volunteers in hospitals:
As learning partner, we’ve been working alongside the Pears #iwill network to identify and facilitate learning. Over the next year, we hope to support the 30 Trusts and their respective charities to measure the impact of youth volunteering on young people, patients and staff – within their own trusts and as a cohort.
About the network
Since early 2018, IVAR has been learning partner for the Pears #iwill Fund, which supports the growth of inclusive, high-quality youth social action opportunities through NHS Trusts and their respective charities.
We work with Pears Foundation, the #iwill campaign, volunteer coordinators in funded NHS trusts and partners, as they introduce or expand youth volunteer programmes in hospitals. We identify and facilitate learning from the projects being piloted or developed through delivery of a peer learning programme.
Royal Voluntary Service portal for NHS Volunteer Responders
Support for NHS Volunteer Responders, people needing support and approved referrers.
Volunteering opportunities for young people
Contact your local hospital (links in top right of this page), or find opportunities via the #iwill campaign.
On challenges faced by the leaders of charities, social enterprises and community organisations.
Advice regarding NHS volunteers relating to Covid-19
Guidance from NHS England and NHS Improvement, targeted at all staff managing volunteers in the NHS.
Youth work support
National Youth Agency, The Mix and UK Youth have created a microsite to bring together relevant advice, guidance, support and tools for youth workers, young people and organisations during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Youth advice and counselling resource hub
Youth Access have created a hub for useful information and resources for youth information, advice and counselling services, practitioners and young people to support them through the Covid-19 crisis.
Learn more about IVAR