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Helpforce is proud to be working with NHS Scotland

24th June 2019

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In Scotland, the Volunteering in NHSScotland Programme supports NHS Boards to develop sustainable volunteering programmes. In practice, this includes supporting strategy and policy development and assisting NHS Boards to develop safe, effective and person-centred roles for volunteers. Alan Bigham, Programme Manager within Healthcare Improvement Scotland provides an overview of volunteering in NHSScotland and what the relationship with Helpforce will bring.

At Healthcare Improvement Scotland (HIS) we are collaborating with Helpforce and other UK partners to share practice and develop the volunteering infrastructure in health and social care. In Scotland we will be taking forward five specific projects which were identified as priority areas of work. Where possible and where needed, we will also collaborate with the other Helpforce initiatives, promoting equity of access to learning and outputs from Helpforce and partners.

There is already a strong commitment to of volunteering across many areas of health and social care in Scotland. The resourcing of this Programme by Scottish Government from 2011 and the mainstreaming of it into the work of HIS was a clear indication of the importance placed on volunteering in NHS Scotland.

In April this year we saw the Scottish Government launch Volunteering for All, a new national outcomes framework for the country setting out our national outcomes for the next decade. The framework transcends health and social care – it’s a commitment at strategic level to place volunteering at the heart of policy development in all areas. A significant milestone for volunteering in Scotland.

But frameworks alone won’t tackle the underlying challenges in volunteering in Scotland – for example, less than 30% of Scottish adults volunteer. Despite this, 52% of young people regularly volunteer in the country – the highest percentage in the UK.

Alongside a relatively static adult volunteer rate, one of the key messages for funders and the senior management of volunteer-engaging organisations is that volunteering is not free. It must be resourced. Investment in volunteer management is crucial for high impact, engaging and enjoyable volunteering. This is the foundation of a successful programme that retains volunteers and ensures all stakeholders benefit.

Throughout this Programme I have been fortunate to meet the many of the very dedicated volunteer managers in health and social care. When I came into post it was clear that they were integral to the development of a collaborative programme of work. Much of the work in the Programme since 2011 has been focussed on the infrastructure of volunteer engagement – supporting people and improving systems.

With the National Group for Volunteering in NHSScotland and Scottish Government, we agreed on a series of additional projects that we will take forward over the next two years. These workstreams will complement the existing Programme activity and we will be able to share the learning with our other UK partners.

I am looking forward to the collaboration and learning opportunities that our partnership with Helpforce will bring. I have met my regional partners from England, Northern Ireland and Wales.For the first time in nearly a decade I have work peers, which is a welcome change! Their expertise and experience in volunteer engagement will be extremely valuable as we each take forward our respective programmes of work in our distinct policy environments.

Learning from what has worked well in each country is important in what is an ever-changing and increasingly pressured policy and operational landscape. But we must also be humble enough to say what has not worked too.

I’m fortunate to have this Programme hosted within HIS, an organisation where improvement methodology is at the centre of everything we do. Being a part of the HIS family, and now the Helpforce team, will provide a recognised and dynamic foundation to take forward our work.

Alan Bigham, Programme Manager (Volunteering)