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Introducing Helpforce – and our support offer to you

11th November 2019


We are a not-for-profit with a mission to grow and enhance volunteering in UK health and care.

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Helpforce works closely with the NHS – and other partners across health, care and the VCS sector – to ensure volunteering is included as part of system change, working towards volunteers playing a significant role in our integrated care future.

Our work to date has primarily been around NHS hospital trusts. We set up a national Learning Network to share best practice, great examples of impact, and to help leaders and managers working with volunteers to better collaborate and innovate. The Learning Network has almost 80 NHS trusts, >250 individual NHS members, and a number of voluntary sector partners (which we aim to grow).

One of our key ambitions is to improve the evidence base around volunteering. We have visited almost 100 NHS trusts and many front line staff and leaders buy into the fact their volunteers add something special for their staff and patients. But with limited evidence of impact, it has been difficult for volunteer services – within hospitals or those run on the boundaries by VCS partners – to become sustainable, or to obtain the new investment needed to grow and innovate.

We are currently running a ‘Volunteer Innovators Programme’ with 12 NHS hospital trusts that’s building a strong evidence base around a number of volunteering interventions, and how they impact patients, staff, volunteers, and services. We will aim to ‘package’ these interventions and spread them to all NHS trusts to adopt and adapt.

How we will support you on this programme

As NHS England’s national delivery partner our main role is to support you – the ‘systems’ (STPs and ICSs) – in making a success of this programme.

In Year 1 of the programme (up to April 2020) we aim to bring you together as an Integrated Care Collaborative for volunteering, as part of our Learning Network. As part of this collaborative you will have:

  • Access to our Learning Zone online space so we can provide you with:
    • A way to connect with each other through forums and shared documents
    • Information, and news updates relating to the programme
    • Relevant articles, research, and case studies
    • How to guides for topics where you may need help
  • Opportunities to speak to colleagues in other systems on common topics, for instance where you have a shared challenge or working on a similar initiative
  • Invites to events in January 2020 and regular webinars we can run on topics that can assist you with developing your plans
  • Input into a Leadership Case Tool we are developing to help you make the business case for including volunteering in your plans and help bring other system stakeholders on board
  • Advice on planning for years 2 and 3

In Years 2 and 3 we will continue to run the Collaborative and help systems with implementing their plans.

In Year 2 (to April 2021) we will also be offering front-line project delivery support to the selected 8 to 12 systems (TBC) that receive funding from NHS England. We will help these project gather data and form the evidence of impact that can help with local sustainability, and also nationwide spread.

In Year 3 (to April 2022) we will continue to support systems to spread learning and volunteering approaches, plus we will package any volunteering approaches that are ready to be readily adopted and adapted across other systems. In this way, all systems that are part of the programme can benefit from the funded Year 2 projects.

If you have any questions on this topic, or would like to ask if there’s any other support you need from us, please email Darren or post a message in the forum.