Royal and Broadgreen join new national programme to maximise the positive impact of volunteers

Helpforce, the organisation working with hospitals to enhance the benefits of volunteering across the NHS, will today announce that the Royal and Broadgreen University Hospitals NHS Trust has joined its new Volunteering Innovators Programme to identify the most promising volunteering initiatives from across the country that can be spread to other NHS settings.

The  Royal and Broadgreen University Hospitals NHS Trust has been chosen as one of the 12 hospital trusts that Helpforce will work with over the next 18 months to develop volunteer innovations that will be refined and shared to help other trusts in the UK adopt effective volunteer services.

The volunteer initiatives, which includes the palliative care volunteers service at the Trust has been identified as having the potential to make a major impact to benefit staff and patients. The palliative care volunteer service was piloted at the Trust in 2012. Since then the service has proven to be an essential addition to the nursing care on the wards by providing extra emotional support and a spiritual presence to dying patients and their loved ones. The volunteers provide companionship to dying patients with few or no visitors, offering reassurance and a connection to the community outside of the hospital. The volunteers also support families who are unable to visit or those who are emotionally exhausted and in need of a break from their bedside vigil.


Following the success of the pilot, the service was extended trust wide and has been integrated in the twelve bed academic palliative care unit. This service was also awarded the Queen’s Award for Volunteering in June 2017 and Macmillan’s Deborah Hutton Award for excellence in Volunteering in 2015. The Royal and Broadgreen was selected following a competitive process which saw Helpforce receive 115 applications from 90 trusts.


Alison Germain-Martin, volunteer services manager at the Trust said, “I am so proud of the amazing work of our palliative care volunteers, their commitment and compassion is truly remarkable. The emotional support they provide benefits both the patient and their loved ones, giving reassurance to families at the end of their relative’s life.


The grant will enable us to continue recruiting and training our volunteers and extend the service out of hours and at weekends to more areas within our hospitals. It will also allow us to share this model of best practice to Trusts across the UK, meaning that the programme can be implemented nationwide and extend support to many more dying patients across the UK.”


As part of Helpforce’s work with 12 new NHS hospital trusts, 10 will be funded by NHS England and two by the Royal Voluntary Service. The 10 funded by the NHS England grant will each receive a £75,000 grant, and all 12 will have access to a range of supporting services, digital tools, resources and guidance.


Sir Thomas Hughes-Hallett, Founder and Chair of HelpForce, said, “We are excited about working with the Royal and Broadgreen hospitals as part of our new Volunteering Innovators Programme, which will give us the opportunity to scale and share the most inspiring and effective volunteering initiatives.”


Paddy Hanrahan, Managing Director of Helpforce, added, “We received a huge number of applications from trusts wanting to become part of our new programme, which is testament to the enthusiasm for the development of effective volunteer roles. Working closely with leading trusts, voluntary sector partners and NHS England, we can create a future where safe and reliable volunteering in the NHS is part of our everyday lives, helping patients and our brilliant frontline staff to get the very best from the health service.”


The Volunteering Innovators Programme launches alongside the publication of new Helpforce findings showing the positive impact that volunteers can make for patients and staff, following an evaluation of the organisation’s work with five trusts that have been testing volunteer roles since 2017. The findings include showing how volunteers can free up time for NHS staff to focus on their core roles, support vulnerable patients at mealtimes, and how they can assist with the patient discharge process.