Volunteering FAQs

Who can apply to be a volunteer?

Anyone who is over age 17. Anyone under 17 (i.e. 14-16 years) can apply for Work Experience. Email WorkExperience@nbt.nhs.uk

Are there any minimum requirements in terms of commitment?

We ask volunteers to commit to a minimum of 3-4 hours a week for a minimum of 6 months.

We try to be flexible about what days and hours you do, but if you are going to help on a ward, you need to fit into the ward routine.

The best time to volunteer on a ward is from 10am-2pm or from 3pm-6pm or 4pm-7pm.

What kinds of different things do volunteers do?

There are many roles available. You need to have a good idea of what you want to do before you apply.

I would like to work on a ward with patients, is this possible?

Yes. All volunteers working with patients are called Patient Befrienders. They usually help the housekeepers serve drinks and meals and also chat to patients. Some befrienders are also trained in how to feed patients. This is a really important job and we are always looking for more patient feeders. We run patient feeding courses (2 hours) regularly – so if you interested in doing this please let us know and we will invite you to the training.

What is the recruitment process?

The recruitment process usually takes around 2 months and depends upon applicants having a successful interview, completing all the necessary recruitment forms, supplying a satisfactory reference and obtaining an enhanced DBS certificate (police check).

Due to the large number of people applying to volunteer applicants are usually invited to attend a group recruitment session. This is when we complete all paperwork. It is also an opportunity for you to find out more about volunteering and have a 1:1 interview so we can check that you are suitable.

The processing of application forms is often held up due to people not providing a definite suitable referee or the referee not responding to a request for a reference. So you need to make sure that you have a suitable referee who is willing and able to provide this.

Recruitment sessions are usually held every 2-3 months so if you have just missed one then you may have to wait a couple of months for the next one. We hope that you can be patient.

Do I need any previous experience?

No, just a willingness to help others, listen and learn.

Do you provide training?

Yes. We hold bespoke Volunteer Training Days several times a year. This covers many aspects of working in a hospital including:

  • Fire training
  • Safeguarding
  • Infection Control
  • Health and Safety
  • Dementia Awareness amongst other topics.

We require all volunteers to attend a training day before starting their voluntary placement if possible, or within two months of starting.

We also offer Patient Feeding training which is essential for anyone willing to help feed patients. This is a very important job and we are always looking for more patient feeders.

Do most people who apply end up being a volunteer?

Yes if they have thought carefully about why they want to volunteer and know they have the time to commit. Many people apply without knowing what is involved or just to improve their CV or Uni application. We often find that these people have other priorities (e.g. studying for exams) and find it hard to find the time for volunteering. People who do not have the right motivation or who cannot commit enough time usually drop out.

Why do people want to volunteer in a hospital?

There are many reasons:

  • Wanting to give something back – i.e. have some understanding of what it’s like to be a patient and the vital role volunteers play in supporting patients and staff.
  • Gain confidence, improve communication and interpersonal skills.
  • Interest in getting a job or career within the NHS and want to get some experience.
  • Need some relevant work experience in order to apply for a degree course (e.g. nursing, medicine, Speech Therapy, Midwifery, Nutrition) or other health related courses.
  • Learning new skills, enhancing your CV
  • The ‘feel good factor’ – knowing you are making a difference and having a positive impact.
  • Meet new people and make new friends

I want to volunteer at the weekends, is this possible?

Yes. We need volunteers 7 days a week. When your recruitment process is completed and you are ready to start, you will need to come in during the week for an induction session. This is arranged individually and needs to be done between 8.30am-4.30pm, Tuesday – Friday. If you are starting at the weekend it is best that you come in for induction towards the end of the week – i.e. as close to your start date as possible.

I want to go into medicine/nursing, can I shadow the doctors or nurses?

No. However as a patient befriender you will have contact with patients and you will be in a clinical environment where you can gain an understanding of the way the ward works and who is who in terms of clinical and non-clinical roles. Your main duties will be to help serve drinks and meals and chat to patients.

I would like to get a range of experience, can I volunteer in different areas?

Not usually. Some volunteers come in twice a week and volunteer in two different areas, but normally volunteers come in once a week and we need them to offer consistency and go to the same area/ward each time. This means that the volunteer and the ward get used to each other and this is more satisfactory for all concerned.

I would like to bring my car to the hospital, what is the situation with parking?

The general advice is to get here via bus, bicycle or foot if at all possible. Public car parks are relatively expensive and unfortunately we cannot reimburse volunteers for parking costs. Bus services to the hospital have improved since the new building opened and there is a dedicated travel team who can advise you and provide timetables etc. If you really need to drive a car here you can apply for a parking permit although this does not of course guarantee you a space. Please ask about this before you start.

What other benefits do you offer?

Anyone who volunteers each week for 4 hours or more is eligible to claim travel expenses and a meal voucher which can be spent in the staff restaurant.

What else can I expect?

We try to arrange a party for volunteers once or twice a year, e.g. at Christmas time. This is an opportunity to get together and celebrate your contribution and achievements and a chance for us to say Thank You!