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Helpforce and Royal Voluntary Service form a strategic partnership to help maximise the power of volunteering in the NHS

18th May 2018

Press release

Helpforce, a Community Interest Company using the power of volunteering to improve the health and wellbeing of people across the UK, has today announced a new strategic partnership with Royal Voluntary Service.

The partnership supports Helpforce’s ambition to help double the number of volunteers in the NHS by 2021 and will develop volunteering opportunities in areas where Royal Voluntary Service already has a presence in an NHS Trust.

Royal Voluntary Service has 25,000 volunteers working across the country and runs a range of services in hospitals including on ward mobility support, patient transport, Home from Hospital and trolley services. As well as measuring the impact of existing volunteering initiatives, the partnership will help develop innovative roles and grow the evidence base around volunteering.

Sir Tom Hughes-Hallett, founder of Helpforce, said:

“This partnership is an important step in our aim to scale and grow volunteering. We are delighted to be working with Royal Voluntary Service to develop volunteering initiatives that will help healthcare professionals and community organisations meet the diverse care and support needs of patients. Working together, we can quickly start to extend proven good practice and test new initiatives so that more people can benefit across the country.”

Catherine Johnstone CBE, Chief Executive, Royal Voluntary Service said:

“This exciting, new and strategic partnership between Helpforce and Royal Voluntary Service sees both organisations committed to maximising the gift of voluntary service within the NHS. The combination of Helpforce’s innovation and our experience, will enable us to explore and identify new ways that volunteers can support some of the pressure faced by our health care system. Together, we will work to scale up volunteering within the NHS over the next five years.”

Paddy Hanrahan, Managing Director of Helpforce, added:

“While more than 78,000 people currently volunteer with acute NHS Trusts, they are rarely integrated into NHS strategies or service delivery plans. We know that volunteering support is particularly important for vulnerable patients without family or a wider network, and Royal Voluntary Service is already working in key sites across the country. Older patients supported by volunteers back into their homes report increased social contact, confidence and happiness, consequently helping reduce re-admission rates and we need to pinpoint how best this support can be provided within and around the hospital environment.”

The partnership announcement coincides with new research commissioned by Royal Voluntary Service, which finds that:

  • More than one fifth of adults (22%) in Great Britain would consider volunteering to support the NHS
  • More than two thirds (67%) believe volunteers have a vital role to play in supporting the NHS and more than half (58%) agree giving time to the NHS is equally as important as providing finance
  • Two fifths said volunteers could help reduce readmissions by helping patients make a smooth transition back home and 44% believe they would help improve the emotional and personal care provided to patients

The new poll also explored the voluntary roles the public are already, or would consider, doing. These included providing companionship to patients on wards (47%), volunteering in the shops, cafes or for the trolley services that go out on wards (46%), helping out on wards during mealtimes (35%), helping patients get to and from their NHS appointments (30%) and leading activities and social groups for patients (24%).

In addition to Royal Voluntary Service, Helpforce is working with a range of cross sector organisations including NHS England, NHS Improvement, British Red Cross, NCVO, King’s Fund, Deloitte and Step up to Serve. The importance of Helpforce’s mission has already been recognised by NHS England, who have made volunteering a key part of their 70th anniversary celebrations.