Summary of networking session held on 15 December 2021


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Created by Debbie Ambrose - Last updated a month ago | Tags:

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20 December 2021 at 1:46pm


Thank you to all who have joined us over the last year to take part in conversations on a wide variety of topics and we hope that as well as enjoying them you have found inspiration and made new friends.

We are already planning lots more for 2022 and look forward to seeing you all soon. If you have any conversation ideas or burning questions that you would like to ask colleagues please use this forum or send us an email to

For our final session of 2021 we were treated to a wonderful array of Christmas hats and decorations as well as some great conversation. Here are a few of the highlights:-

  • Generally there has been a raised awareness of volunteering with a wide range of people coming forward to volunteer. This in turn has created a wider diversity of volunteers coming through this year. Covid has encouraged people to rise to the challenge and volunteer informally, for example by helping neighbours. The next question is ‘how do we encourage these volunteers to move into a more structured volunteering environment?’

  • In the Kent area 5% of volunteers are under the age of 30. Engaging with young people is felt to be the easy bit - the challenge is to create opportunities.

  • Gender barriers - it can be effective to talk to schools and colleges to showcase the range of careers available across the NHS and to encourage boys into areas seen traditionally as female roles. Involving a young volunteer in school / college presentations can be a great way of encouraging young people to try volunteering in the NHS.

  • There can be a misconception that every role in the NHS is clinical.

  • Lack of parental / carer engagement is a huge issue (below 20%) in secondary schools and colleges. Many colleges do not engage with parents at all but there is a willingness to build closer relationships with families. Providing access to volunteering and job opportunities can be a great way for schools and colleagues to engage more closely with parents and carers.

  • Providing opportunities for community groups to engage with each other is important for developing a shared understanding around the challenges and common issues, for example the impact of Covid on people's mental health.

  • Success Stories: Volunteers who have started out with low confidence, anxiety and limited skills have had their lives completely changed by volunteering. As well as improved literacy skills some have progressed to paid employment and careers in the NHS.

More success stories can be found on Helpforce 2021 Champions Awards page.

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