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10.06.19

Helpforce to launch training programmes for NHS volunteers

Source: NHE May/June 2019

Kay Fawcett OBE, clinical advisor and education lead at Helpforce, and Lynn Twinn, talent development consultant, outline the new national training programmes for NHS volunteers and volunteer leaders.

Helpforce, a charity set up by Sir Thomas Hughes-Hallett in 2017, is committed to creating a better future in health and care through maximising the benefits of safe, reliable and effective volunteers.

Volunteering is good on many levels: for patients, for the volunteers themselves, and for staff who have more time to focus on their clinical professional roles. We are working with NHS trusts, the third sector and wider health and care agencies to create a future for volunteering in the NHS and beyond.

In order to secure the future of volunteering in health and care, we are creating the first nationally recognised training standards with education and training pathways for volunteers and volunteer managers in the NHS. To do this, we are pulling together the best education and training that already exists and creating a pathway for both volunteers and volunteer service managers. We hope to set a national standard, and provide an open portal, accessible for all, with  information and training opportunities.

The training will prepare volunteers for their roles, ensuring they are safe, reliable, and confident to support NHS patients, services and staff that they are engaged with. For those keen to move from volunteering to a career in health, they will use the training to acquire relevant new skills to the health and care sector. As each volunteer completes the training modules, they will have a digital record of their journey. This will be useful to each organisation they volunteer with, and a step on the road to building  a volunteer passport.

We are co-designing all the training, and at a recent Helpforce workshop with young volunteers, Samantha Ashton, a 19-year-old volunteer at South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “I found the day to be such a great opportunity to have a say, and speak about what I do as a volunteer and ways I would like to improve volunteering. It was enjoyable, and it was lovely to meet other volunteers from different areas and share our experiences.

“Helpforce is doing the right thing speaking to volunteers because as a volunteer, I can share my experiences and I know the ways that volunteering can be improved. Helpforce is talking to those who the training standards will affect and ensuring they are relevant. I really enjoyed engaging with Helpforce as well as the other volunteers because you get to hear different aspects.”

Through an open portal we will also support volunteer leaders and their teams to progress their career and develop the key skills they need for their roles. We will signpost them to the most appropriate training and development from a variety of providers, apprenticeship, and their NHS trust learning and online courses.

A volunteer manager who is completing her Level 5 apprenticeship in leadership says she is finding the experience invaluable: “This has given me the opportunity to share with others how volunteering benefits the trust, and I have gained insight as to how my colleagues view volunteering. It can only help all of us going forward.”

We also support informal peer to peer support through our Helpforce National Learning Network. A place where NHS volunteer managers and other staff from across the country come together to discuss issues, learn from each other, and meet their colleagues in a supportive environment.

We believe the right training for all those wishing to volunteer, or run volunteer services in the NHS, will help secure the future of volunteering in health and care and continue to enhance the benefits of volunteering roles for those experiencing them.

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