Royal Voluntary Service formalises partnership to double NHS volunteering

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Royal Voluntary Service has today announced a strategic partnership with a scheme set up to double the number of volunteers working in the NHS by 2021.

HelpForce, which was set up at the end of last year as a Community Interest Company, aims to double the 78,000 volunteers currently working in NHS trusts to 156,000. 

The partnership will develop volunteering opportunities in areas where Royal Voluntary Service already has a presence in an NHS Trust. As part of it, Catherine Johnstone, chief executive of RVS has joined the HelpForce board, and two members of the RVS team, Allison Smith, and Ben Long, are on secondment to HelpForce, working on policy, and engagement with pilot trusts. 

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 of RVS, 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.”

22 per cent public would consider volunteering to support the NHS

To coincide with the announcement of the strategic partnership, RVS commissioned a YouGov poll to explore what voluntary roles the public are already, or would consider, doing. 

The poll found that more than one fifth of adults (22 per cent) in Great Britain would consider volunteering to support the NHS, and that more than two thirds (67 per cent) believe volunteers have a vital role to play in supporting the NHS. 

It also found that 58 per cent agree that giving time to the NHS is equally as important as providing finance. 

On the roles that people polled said they would consider doing, 47 per cent said they would provide companionship to patients on wards; 46 per cent said they would consider volunteering in the shops, cafes or for the trolley services that go out on wards;  35 per cent said they would consider helping out on wards during mealtimes; 30 per cent said helping patients get to and from their NHS appointments; and 24 per cent said leading activities and social groups for patients.

In addition to RVS, 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. 

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