Why not volunteer with the NHS?

Volunteers of all ages and backgrounds make a huge and often unseen contribution to the health and wellbeing of the nation, giving their time, skills and expertise to support the NHS, charities, faith and belief groups and their own communities.  Why not join them and give the NHS a special 70th birthday present?

Volunteering in health and care is a rewarding way to use your spare time.  As well as helping the NHS to enhance the experience patients receive, you can gain new skills, make new friends and improve your own health and wellbeing.

Volunteering opportunities vary greatly, from befriending patients on a ward to being a first responder with an ambulance service, fundraising for an NHS charity or being a peer supporter for a health charity. You could also be a hospital radio DJ, contribute to advisory groups or help with programmes in your local community.

People of any background can find rewarding and challenging opportunities which reflect their availability, ambitions and passions – and make a genuine difference to people’s lives.

Join the NHS volunteer team

To learn about volunteering opportunities in your local NHS, as well as other health and care organisations that support the NHS, visit www.do-it.org.  Alternatively, you can contact your local NHS trust.

The NHS Choices website includes more information about volunteering.

If you’d like to volunteer for an organisation that enriches the lives of older people and their families across Britain,  find out more at www.royalvoluntaryservice.org.uk

Irene’s volunteer story

Irene Fox

In 1988, Irene Fox’s husband, Fred, passed away at the Royal Free Hospital, after he developed bronchial cancer. He was only 61.

But instead of avoiding the hospital where her husband died, Irene chose to return again and again.

Irene said: “I can’t remember who suggested I volunteer but at the beginning it just helped me forget about my problems and focus on something else. Now nearly 30 years later I reckon I’m part of the fixtures and fittings at the hospital.”

Irene’s role includes wheeling a trolley around the wards for a couple of hours so people can buy items such as newspapers, snacks and toiletries. However, the trolley is significantly lighter than when she first started volunteering – it no longer includes a large tea urn!

Irene says she has no plans to retire from her volunteering duties: “I honestly don’t know what else I would do if I didn’t come here two afternoons a week. Of course I take holidays and don’t come in if I’m not feeling well but other than that I’m always here. It’s important to me. As long as I’m well enough to carry on doing it I will.

“I don’t live far away and I often spot people on the ward who I know by sight from my local neighbourhood, even if not by name. It makes me reflect on how lucky I am to still be up and about and I don’t take that for granted. I feel like if I can help I should.”