This year heralds a new project for Nottingham Hospitals Charity. The Youth Volunteer project is funded by The Pears Foundation #iwill fund. It recognises that young people as volunteers add value to patients and services, and when young people volunteer, they bring something special to patients and services. Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust is one of 5 hospitals in the Midlands out of a total of 28 NHS Trusts in the Pears national network.
The project works with young people to give them access to the opportunities and experience that volunteering within the NHS provides. I am responsible for coordinating the project, and hope to put to good use my experience as a Registered Nurse, and what I have learnt while doing my PhD research on volunteering.
The project aims are to grow youth volunteering in health and care; to develop, integrate, and embed a sustainable youth volunteering programme within NUH Trust; and to have better outcomes for patients, better outcomes for the hospital, and a positive impact on young people. We also aim to build on the existing hospital voluntary services infrastructure to create a sustainable programme for young people which provides flexible opportunities and overcomes barriers.
We are fortunate to have around 1500 volunteers helping and supporting staff and patients at Nottingham University Hospitals. I often wonder where we would be without our wonderful volunteers! I see magical things happening every day: experienced and caring volunteers calmly and kindly helping patients with meals and activities, or simply offering them a hand to hold, a smile and a kind word.
We are also fortunate that our hospitals’ BAME shared governance council has offered extra support to young people from BAME backgrounds, and that our youth service team have offered their expertise in working with young people.
I have started visiting local schools and youth groups to find out the sorts of things young people want out of volunteering. I am always impressed by the passion and enthusiasm of the students, especially the ones I met on my first visit to Nottingham University Samworth Academy in Bilborough. I have also visited various wards to find out what staff think about involving young volunteers, and the response has been overwhelmingly positive.
I look forward to working in collaboration with the teams in Nottingham to support our young volunteers to make sure they are supported and remain motivated throughout their time here. The project provides a unique opportunity for patients to receive extra support, for young people to develop skills, confidence, wellbeing, and career opportunities by experiencing hospital volunteering in Nottingham, and for the Trust to develop new volunteer roles. We will be posting regular updates on social media as the project progresses, just follow #NHSNottsYouthVolunteer #iwillfund and #iwill to keep up to date and find out more.
If you are interested in applying to join the Pears youth volunteer project, you can download an application form and find out more on the Trust website: https://www.nuh.nhs.uk/volunteering