Our plans

We have launched a new Volunteering Innovators Programme, in partnership with NHS England, to enhance and scale volunteering services with hospital trusts. By working closely with 10 NHS hospital trusts – and their NHS and third sector partners – we want to identify, celebrate, develop, and spread a range of volunteer services to support staff in the NHS; improve the wellbeing and experience of patients; and provide fulfilling roles to volunteers. The selected hospital trusts for the Helpforce Volunteering Innovators programme will receive a £75,000 grant for up to 18 months, and access to a range of supporting services, digital tools, resources, and tailored guidance.

If this sounds like you – you can express your interest in joining the programme until October 31st 2018.

Apply now

Creating a National Leadership Programme for Volunteer Service Managers

With the backing of senior leaders in the NHS, and in partnership with Health Education England, we are bringing together experts in leadership and health education to build a nationally recognised programme for volunteer leaders and volunteers. To ensure this is co-designed from the ground, we are working with Volunteer Service Managers to design the training, and give their invaluable insights into the training needs of volunteers. This is a vital step for Helpforce. By supporting volunteer leaders to create a training programme, we are one step closer to ensuring the long term future of volunteers in health.

Digital support to improve the volunteer journey

We have analysed the typical user journey for volunteers wishing to help out in hospitals, and have found there are many barriers that deter potential volunteers. For instance the time taken to get necessary identity and DBS checks completed before you can start volunteering, or the inability to transfer training and achievements between NHS trusts. We will develop a digital solution to improve the journey for volunteers and ultimately attract and retain more volunteers in our hospitals.

Helpforce was created to improve the lives of NHS staff, patients and our communities through the power of volunteering. We are shaping 21st century volunteering at a national scale in collaboration with the NHS, charities, and communities; and inspiring more people to play their part in the health and care of our nation.

Our six objectives


  1. Inspire communities, individuals, and other organisations to share the benefits and responsibilities of our health and care by getting and staying involved
  2. Celebrate, share, and scale best volunteering practice at local and national level
  3. Support health and care providers by ensuring that volunteers are safe, reliable and with the skills to underpin every aspect of our NHS
  4. Provide companionship and support to patients who will be accompanied through their health and care journey by safe, reliable volunteers
  5. Influence health and care leaders to invest time and resource to help local communities support health and care staff, to the benefit of patients and volunteers alike
  6. Forge collaborations between the NHS, charities, community groups, corporates and philanthropists to put communities back at the heart of the health and wellbeing of us all

By April 2020, we will have:

  1. Inspired
    • Through telling stories, in digital weekly; in national and local media monthly
    • Created strong partnerships in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland partners
    • Created a national Helpforce community that empowers and connects volunteers giving them a voice
    • Shown the health and wellbeing benefits of volunteering, how it improves confidence, skills, and friendships
    • Increased the number and diversity of volunteers and collaborated with other organisations (e.g., Centre for Ageing Better, and #iwill)
    • Improved the volunteer experience from recruitment through to support and recognition
    • Demonstrated to staff how volunteers can improve their working lives and increased staff demand for volunteers
  2. Celebrated, shared and scaled
    • Through an annual Helpforce Champions awards to raise the profile of NHS volunteering and winners invited to be Helpforce ambassadors
    • Shared 50 examples of best-practice volunteering on the Helpforce Learning Zone
    • Created 10 Helpforce packaged interventions available for scaling
    • Identified and celebrated how volunteers are relieving pressure on NHS staff and making more time for care in a published document
    • Celebrated the work of other charities on the Helpforce website and through the Learning Network
    • Established our Impact and insight framework and made it ready to scale, developed with and for NHS trusts
  3. Supported health and care providers
    • Standardised national curriculum providing safe and reliable NHS volunteers and improved access to accredited training and development
    • Launched the education and training programmes for:
    • Leaders of volunteers in 12 Trusts
    • Volunteers at different levels and in different settings in 12 Trusts
    • Underpinned new interventions and Helpforce packaged interventions with training
    • Ensured that Helpforce’s training programmes enables pathways to employment
  4. Provided companionship to patients
    • In partnership with 12 NHS hospital trusts with interventions proven to enhance patient experience and wellbeing
    • Using three interventions across a significant section of the patient pathway co-designed with our partners
    • Established our Impact and insight framework and made it ready to scale, developed with and for NHS trusts
    • Co-designed roles with volunteers, patients, and staff to be visible
  5. Influenced health and care leaders
    • Appointed new local Helpforce ambassadors from our NHS partners to lead regions and to be members of our team
    • Appeared quarterly on national platforms
    • Articulated how volunteers are supporting economic/productivity benefits  in a published document
    • Developed, with NHS Confederation and CQC, a Helpforce certification for well led volunteering services within health and care organisations
    • Demonstrated the impact volunteering makes through digital tools and start to create a national data set
  6. Forged collaborations
    • Brought in £2.5M of additional charitable funding to health volunteering
    • Agreed 4 new collaborations, and formal arrangements with RVS, Marie Curie, NAVSM and Alzheimer’s
    • Provided greater NHS access and spread for key voluntary sector partners