How Helpforce supported Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust’s active response volunteering service

5th October 2021

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When Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust wanted to set up a team of volunteers trained to do various useful tasks across its hospitals, Helpforce – with extensive experience of helping to establish similar services – was there to support the initiative.

About the service

Set up in 2020, just before Covid-19 struck, the active response volunteering service offers volunteer support to do a variety of key tasks within the Trust. With volunteers not allowed on to wards, the pandemic has stifled the service’s growth – but it is still making a positive impact.

Volunteers work in hospital receptions, directing visitors and patients to the right areas of the hospital, taking dropped-off bags to patients, and doing any other tasks the receptionist needs help with.

The Trust’s communications team and nursing training team can also fill out a special form to request help from the active response volunteers. Some tasks volunteers have helped with include putting up posters about social distancing around the hospital, and distributing certificates and goodie bags to winners of the Trust’s nursing awards.

Why the Trust decided to work with Helpforce

“We’d been linked in with Helpforce for a long time, and knew they offered great knowledge and resources,” said Tifaine Carter, deputy voluntary services manager. “When they told us there was a chance to work together to develop a new volunteering service, it felt like a good opportunity to formalise what we were trying to do, capture some results, and be able to evidence the difference our volunteers are making.”

How Helpforce supports the team

Our programme manager was on hand throughout the process of developing the service, offering 1:1 coaching to Tifaine and her team. Plus, Tifaine has taken part in group workshops and discussion sessions with her peers in similar roles around the country, learning from their experiences. Our service guides, showing how other Trusts have set up similar services, have also proved useful.

The benefits of working with Helpforce

“Helpforce’s programme manager has just been fantastic,” said Tifaine. “We meet every week or so, then monthly, and have a catch-up session planned now to see where I might take the service in the future. It’s nice to have someone you can run ideas past. The programme manager knows what works and what doesn’t from her experiences with other Trusts, and will challenge your ideas.”

Helpforce’s programme manager helped Tifaine develop her skills in project management, stakeholder engagement and more. “I’m always very busy ‘doing’ but Helpforce’s programme manager supported me to plan the service from start to finish, put timelines in place, and focus on doing the right things at the right times,” explained Tifaine. “She also supported me to work out how best to let key stakeholders in the Trust know about the service, and encourage them to get involved.”

Tifaine also found Helpforce’s resources and networking opportunities valuable. “Service guides from other Trusts who have set up similar services and networking with other Trusts online were really useful” she said. “When you’re super busy it’s nice to not always have to think about everything from scratch.”

Future plans

Tifaine and her team are always looking at new ways active response volunteers can support the Trust – a challenge given that volunteers are unlikely to be allowed back on to wards in the near future.

“We’re just trying to work as cleverly and imaginatively as possible to continue to use volunteer support in a way that’s safe within the hospital. There’s still plenty of opportunities to develop as a service.”

To learn more about the support that Helpforce provides to health and care organisations, please visit here.