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First “Share & Learn” meet up proved popular among Helpforce Network members

20th December 2019

LN York meet up

The meet up, which took place in York earlier this month, has been praised by members for the invaluable information that the session offered to attendees.

The day saw members exchanging ideas as well as learning from guest speakers’ experiences in setting up and running intervention volunteering projects.

Sally Williams, Helpforce Network manager, said: “We decided to organise a series of informal meet ups where people are encouraged to speak and share freely their ideas and challenges within a small group of people, as we see this is a great way to help members engage and learn from each other.

“We’re delighted to know that our members found the first session helpful and inspiring. We would like to thank everyone for coming, especially to our presenters, Lucy Boulter at Salford Royal Foundation Trust (FT), and Catherine Rhodes, at York Teaching Hospital NHS FT, for sharing their knowledge and experience with members.”

Lucy Boulter, project manager for her Trust’s volunteering service, said: “It has been a great opportunity for me to come to the meet up to share with my colleagues about my experience in running the Dining Companions project, which sees volunteers spending time with patients to encourage them to eat their meal or to keep them company, helping them speed up their recovery.

“It’s also helpful to learn from other members about how they deal with challenging situations, such as engaging with clinical staff or building a business case study to ask for more support from the Trust Board. I left feeling much more supported, knowing that we have a strong network to help me with my work.”

Volunteer lead at Bradford District Care NHS FT, Catherine Jowitt, added: “I found the day very useful. It was great to meet colleagues from different NHS Trusts and learn from them what they did well and what challenges that they have. Those honest talks really made me feel that I’m not alone and that if I need help, I can always find one.

“One of many things from the session that I will definitely take back is to adopt the Theory of Change, which was shared by Helpforce’s regional lead, Roz Tinlin. I think the theory will equip me with knowledge to introduce changes within our services.

“I’m very grateful to Helpforce for organising sessions like this, so that NHS volunteer service managers can connect and learn from each other. I look forward to attending future events.”

The next ‘Share and Learn’ meet up will take place on 12th February in Bath. If you would like to attend the session, please contact Sally Williams at