Volunteering has been a part of the NHS since it came into existence and many of the first publicly available hospitals were developed from voluntary donations.
Volunteers work in many areas of NHS services, performing a wide range of different roles. From guiding people around a hospital, to visiting elderly patients in their home, NHS volunteers help to enhance the services we provide and improve the experience and wellbeing of patients and visitors.
Volunteering can be a perfect way for learners to get first hand experience of working in the NHS which can be beneficial when applying for jobs and is often a requirement when applying for health related educational courses.
There are a lot of NHS organisations taking on volunteers in Greater Manchester, the link below will give you a list of organisations in order of how close they are to the organisation you work for.
The first step to becoming a volunteer is to complete an application with the organisation you want to work with. This will often be a paper form or sometimes on a webpage. If successful, applicants will likely be invited to an interview or recruitment workshop to tell them more about the roles available and for the host to see if they think they are right for the role.
If the application is successful then applicants will need to complete a registration process which will often involve identity checks, criminal record (DBS) check, training and an occupational health assessment.
This process can take from 1-2 months depending on a number of factors. Its important to consider when applying to volunteer that the applicant may not be able to start straight away. For example, if they wanted to start volunteering in July they might want to apply in March to make sure everything is complete in time.
Volunteering can provide first hand experience of working in a healthcare setting. This will help learners to see whether its the kind of thing they'd like to do in the future.
Through volunteering you can make contacts in the organisation which can help when learners start to apply for jobs or courses.
Volunteers will be working alongside other volunteers and staff of all different ages and walks of life. It can be a great experience to meet new people with different life experiences.
Volunteering can make a valuable addition to a CV or future job applications. Many university courses require some form of work experience and most employers will view this kind of activity favourably.
If volunteers perform well in a role and show a long term commitment to the department they're supporting then their supervisor may well be willing to provide a reference for future applications for jobs or educational courses.
One of the best things about volunteering is the feeling you get from helping patients, visitors and the local community. This is a major reason that a lot of people like working in healthcare and may be a deciding factor for a learner in whether they pursue a career in this area.
There are a wide range of volunteering roles in the NHS with volunteers often providing support which compliments or enhances existing services. Roles often involve supporting patients and visitors with support that is not part of the organisations normal or essential services like guiding visitors, having a chat with patients or fundraising.
Volunteering is a long term commitment of time; when considering if they'd like to apply to volunteer a learner should consider whether they are willing to continue for 6 months or more. They'll normally be expected to volunteer for 3-4 hours each week although they can often perform more than one shift if they like and some roles work on a more ad hoc or less regular basis.
The host organisation should reimburse volunteers for travel to and from their volunteering role, including both cost of travel by car or public transport. There may be a cap on the amount they can claim but this is usually at a level that will allow residents of the local area to get to and from their role.