NAVSM were delighted to have significantly contributed to the ‘Adding Value through Volunteering in NHS Trusts’. These reports provide a framework to understand your own approach to volunteering and how you can increase your impact and ensure volunteering is integral to your organisations work. They identify how a strategic approach to volunteering in NHS Trusts can add value and a valuable resource for volunteer service managers and policy leads.
The NHS Long Term Plan and the most recent NHS workforce plan recognise and commit to maximising the value of volunteers, and Covid-19 has further highlighted the huge potential and contribution of volunteers. As organisations seek to ‘build back better’, there is now an opportunity to consider the role of volunteers in the NHS and for trusts to develop a strategic approach to volunteering.
Our research found evidence of support for volunteering in all acute and ambulance trusts, and in the majority of specialist, mental health, and community trusts. Irrespective of the individual scale of provision, there has been a significant expansion in capacity and capability of volunteering in recent years.
However, we also identified that current approaches to volunteering and recruiting volunteers mean that volunteering in NHS trusts is currently unlikely to be open to everyone and trusts may be contributing to ongoing inequalities in volunteering, restricting the recruitment of volunteers who are representative of their local communities, meaning trusts miss out on benefiting from the resources and skills that exist within those communities.
We provide a framework for senior leaders to use to understand their trust’s current approach to volunteering, which offers a practical way of identifying how to move from volunteering as an ‘added extra’ to it making an integral contribution to the delivery of health care.
In addition, we provide a resource that explores ways in which volunteering can have a positive impact: for organisations and their staff, for patients and carers, and for volunteers themselves, and shares practice and learning from trusts that have taken a strategic approach to developing volunteering.