Helpforce Champions

Now is the time to celebrate volunteers in health and social care - Nominations close on 7th September 2021


We’re absolutely delighted to announce that the Helpforce Champions Awards 2021 are now open to nominations to celebrate all volunteers across the UK in health and social care.

The Helpforce Champions Awards are the perfect opportunity to celebrate the invaluable contributions made by volunteers across the UK during the past turbulent year, fundamentally defined by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Together we can shine a light on those who give their time and talents to help staff, and support patients and families and carers during the vulnerable time.

For this year, when you nominate a volunteer or a team, regardless of the outcomes, their stories will still be shared on Helpforce’s Wall of Fame as a way to thank them and to inspire more people to volunteer and support their communities.

Award Categories

Our Helpforce Champions Awards recognise volunteers in nine categories to find examples of people trying something new, bringing about positive change and setting new levels of excellence.

Outstanding Volunteering Team of the Year Team Volunteer

This award recognises excellent teamwork and combined contribution by three or more volunteers working together. Whether the group worked on an event or project, they have achieved significant success as a team.

Click here to see last year’s winner.

Young Volunteer of the Year Young Volunteer

This award celebrates the contribution young people can make to staff and patients, and the value they bring. We are looking for examples of young volunteers who are leading the way for their generation. The ones who have made a big difference in the lives of the people they are supporting as well as to their own lives.

Click here to see last year’s winner.

Volunteer of the Year Volunteer Of The Year

This award celebrates an individual who has gone above and beyond expectations in their volunteering role during the year, and made a noticeable impact on the experience of staff, patients and their local community.

Click here to see last year’s winner.

Outstanding Staff Champion for Volunteers Staff Champion

This award goes to a supportive member of health and care staff (outside of volunteer management) who has championed and embraced volunteers, and gone the extra mile to recognise the positive impact volunteers can make.

Click here to see last year’s winner.

Volunteer Leader of the Year Volunteer Leader

This award recognises the commitment and dedication of an outstanding health and care staff member who leads volunteers, or has a core responsibility for managing or coordinating volunteering in the health and care sector. We want to see examples of leaders who have improved the ways volunteers support staff, patients, and the volunteers themselves using innovation and bringing about transformation.

Click here to see last year’s winner.

Partnership & Systems working in volunteering Partnership Working

This award recognises the importance and value of bringing health and care volunteers together with other organisations in hospitals and the wider community.

Click here to see last year’s winner.

Innovation in Volunteering Award Innovation

This award recognises the contributions and achievements of an innovative idea or scheme involving volunteers that has made a significant contribution to staff, patients and the wider community.

Click here to see last year’s winner.

Celebrating inclusion and diversity in volunteering Inclusiondiversity

This award celebrates successful approaches to inclusion; projects or schemes that positively promote ethnicity, disability, refugees, the homeless, or carers for example, within their volunteering strategy. We want to see examples of how an inclusive approach has brought benefits to volunteer, staff, patients and the wider community beyond.

Click here to see last year’s winner.

People’s Choice Award Helpforce Champions logo NEW

This is a new award category which is open to the public to vote for their overall volunteer highlight from the last year. Highlight can mean anything from volunteer initiative, gesture, campaign to a specific team or individual.


Dr Amit Patel

Dr Amit Patel

Active campaigner for accessibility, diversity and inclusion
From my time working within the NHS, I’ve seen first-hand the positive impact and support that volunteers bring, not just to patients but to their families and to the wider hospital community. Volunteers bring hope, strength and kindness in those darkest of times when it’s difficult to see past the pain and suffering. I’m a huge believer in the power of community. Too often we underestimate the power of a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, or the smallest act of kindness, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. You as volunteers bring comfort and joy to so many people – thank you.

View Dr Amit Patel's profile here.

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Karen Bonner

Chief Nurse and Director of Infection Prevention and Control at Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust.
In a capacity as a volunteer I work with the Prostate Cancer UK, to educate and raise awareness of the disease. I am also the Trustee of Helpforce, an organisation which partners with health and care organisations to increase volunteering opportunities and accelerate their impact.

I am proud to be judging the 2021 Helpforce Champions Awards and I am looking forward to celebrating the huge contribution made by our volunteers in supporting the NHS in its response to the greatest challenge in its 73 year history.

View Karen's profile here

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Mark Lever

Helpforce Chief Executive
I am delighted to be part of this year's judging panel and I am so pleased that we are able to celebrate the incredible commitment of the nation's volunteers. I am really excited that we are going to be able to showcase the tremendous difference volunteers have made to the health and care of the nation.

View Mark's profile here

Maisy volunteer photo

Maisy Vincent

Young Volunteer of the Year 2019
I am excited to be on the panel for this year’s Helpforce Awards. I am looking forward to seeing individuals whose action doesn’t just support the NHS but the wider society. I know there are many people who are doing powerful things in their individual communities and it is important they are recognised and can see their power in the bigger picture.

View Maisy's profile here

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Sally James

Public Health Workforce Lead
To me, volunteers are a fundamental part of the wider public health workforce, with a key role in prevention and in the promotion of population and individual health and wellbeing through daily contacts with the community. I am excited to be on the judging panel for the Helpforce Champion awards, and I look forward to seeing brilliant examples of where volunteers in their health promotion role have demonstrated understanding of the wider determinants of health and health inequalities, supporting and signposting individuals to make healthier and informed choices.

View Sally's profile here

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Sir Tom Hughes-Hallett

Helpforce chairman
The past year has been an incredibly difficult year for our health and social care system. But with the support of thousands of volunteers, the NHS has been able to save many lives and continues to provide the best possible care to those that need it. I look forward to seeing wonderful examples of how volunteers have made a difference to patients, their family, and staff.

View Sir Tom's profile here

How to nominate:

Deadline for applications: 5.30pm on the 7th September 2021

1. Complete our online entry form, here.

2. You can attach photos and testimonials to support your nomination.

3. We will contact you by email to let you know if your nomination has been shortlisted. Unfortunately we will not be able to provide feedback to why individual nominations have not been shortlisted.

4. Please note, if shortlisted, we may ask you for a short two minute video of your nominee to be shared on our website and social media.

Frequently asked Questions

"I really hope that for this year, more people are nominated for the Helpforce Champions Awards. The NHS is full of remarkable people; I know there are many volunteers and teams that deserve to be recognised for their tremendous contribution to patients 'health and wellbeing and I know being nominated for these awards would mean the world to them, because it does to me."
Gary Thomas, Volunteer of the Year 2019
Gary Thomas