Volunteering FAQs

Who can apply to be a volunteer?

North Bristol NHS Trust values all people as individuals. We aim to be an anti-discriminatory organisation and are committed to building a volunteer team that represents a variety of backgrounds, perspectives, and skills. We accept applications from anyone who is aged over 17 and welcome applicants from all underrepresented groups.

(Volunteer Musicians under 17 can apply, but must be accompanied by supporting adults at all times)

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. (Volunteer Musicians should aim to complete a minimum of 6 visits per year)


What will I be doing as a hospital volunteer?

We have a wide variety of volunteer roles, and each role has its own role description. To find out what duties each of our volunteer roles entail, please have a read through the role descriptions on our current volunteer opportunities page: Current NBT Volunteer Opportunities | North Bristol NHS Trust

What is the recruitment process?

Due to the nature of hospital volunteering, we have robust application and recruitment checking processes, and our volunteer recruitment process can take some time (on average it takes around 6 weeks from a successful interview to start date). This is because, upon receipt of a completed volunteer application from each volunteer, all our volunteers have: 

  • An informal interview
  • Reference checks
  • A DBS check, if required for the role
  • Occupational Health assessment / clearance, if required for the role
  • Complete the Trust mandatory training (for most volunteers, this consists of 11 modules) via eLearning


Do I need any previous experience?

No. Our volunteers have a passion for helping others, and enjoy listening and learning.

Do you provide training?

Yes. We have a comprehensive mandatory and statutory training package for volunteers, which is currently delivered via our eLearning platform. There are 11 mandatory modules, covering many aspects of volunteering in a hospital setting, for example: Dementia Awareness, Health, Safety, & Infection Prevention & Control, Safeguarding, Equality, Diversity & Human Rights, etc.

In addition to the mandatory training modules, there are a variety of optional modules volunteers may wish to complete and we frequently offer training workshops on various topics (e.g. Visual Impairment Awareness training) several times a year.

We require all volunteers to complete their mandatory modules before starting their voluntary placement if possible, or within two months of starting. Volunteers who may have difficulty with accessing training via eLearning can be supported to access their training in an alternative format. It may also be possible to arrange access to a computer on-site.

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, Monday – Friday. If you are starting at the weekend, it is best that you come in for induction towards the end of the week as close to your start date as possible.

I want to go into Medicine/Nursing, can I shadow the doctors or nurses?

Volunteer Services only deal with Volunteering and are unable to arrange shadowing. However, as a ward-based volunteer, you will have contact with patients and a variety of ward-based staff, 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.

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

We encourage our volunteers to make healthy and sustainable travel choices whenever possible. Please find more information about this here: Staff Travel & Parking | North Bristol NHS Trust (nbt.nhs.uk)

If you need to drive your car to your volunteer shift, you can apply for a parking permit. There is no charge for a volunteer parking permit.

What other benefits do you offer?

Trust Volunteers are offered reimbursement for any out-of-pocket expenses incurred while carrying out their volunteer role, for example mileage or reimbursement of their bus fares. Anyone who volunteers for 4 hours or more is also eligible for a meal voucher for use in the staff restaurant.

Additionally, we try to arrange thanking and celebration events for our volunteers once or twice a year, for example 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!