Chaplaincy volunteers

Chaplaincy volunteers are trained lay visitors whose help complement the work of the chaplains by assisting with the spiritual pastoral and social support and care of those in hospital.

Our volunteers come from many different backgrounds, and enjoy spending time with people on a one-to-one basis.

Admission to hospital (whether planned or as a result of an emergency), is often a catalyst for people to reflect on a range of things: their relationships and what really matters to them, the different frameworks they have for making sense of life and the world, what brings them hope and a sense of wellbeing and so on. Chaplains are often those to whom patients, relatives and staff turn in order to talk these sorts of things through and work as part of the wider healing team within the hospital (in collaboration with doctors, nurses and other members of multi-disciplinary teams).

Chaplaincy volunteers play an important part within the chaplaincy department. Weekday volunteers are allocated to a particular ward, where they visit on a regular weekly basis and can spend time talking or simply being with anyone who would like it. This involves respecting people wherever they are coming from in relation to faith and however it might be expressed (or not). Others help take communion and with the chapel service on Sundays.

Applying to be a volunteer

People can become approved chaplaincy volunteers if they:

  • have undergone the relevant clearance checks for safeguarding purposes
  • have completed the initial training course (once weekly for ten weeks)
  • are accepted by the hospital as voluntary workers
  • are accepted by the chaplains as suitable and safe to practice
  • have written recommendation from their local minister or spiritual leader
  • are willing to undertake ongoing training and development in their role

If you are interested or would like further information about becoming a chaplaincy volunteer, please contact the chaplaincy department. You might also want to discuss your thoughts with your local minister or spiritual leader. We expect that those who come forward for training as volunteers will do so with the full support of their home church or faith group community.


Initial training to be a chaplaincy volunteer takes place over a ten-week period. You will need to attend a weekly 2 hour session relating to the ethos and practice of the hospital and of chaplaincy . During the course, you will be able to explore with others what it might mean to be a patient or a member of staff in a busy modern hospital. You will have the opportunity to develop your communication and relationship skills and to recognise your own, joys, anxieties, hopes and fears. You may find yourself reconsidering your own attitudes and assumptions about various things (such as: birth, life, change, growing old, loss, pain, suffering and death).

Feedback from participants in the past suggest that they have found the training course valuable, interesting and challenging.

Chaplaincy volunteers: work, responsibilities and ongoing training/development

  • All chaplaincy ward volunteers (weekdays and Sundays) must complete the initial ten week training course.
  • All chaplaincy ward volunteers (weekdays and Sundays) must complete their DOT online training.
  • All Sunday wheelchair volunteers must complete wheelchair training (1 hr session) This takes place after the CUH volunteers induction session.
  • A chaplaincy volunteer must have the ability to show patience and sensitivity at all times.
  • A chaplaincy volunteer must be able to withstand the emotional and sometimes tiring demands of chaplaincy visiting which involves sustained attentive listening.
  • A chaplaincy volunteer must be dependable and have a commitment to hospital voluntary work.
  • A chaplaincy volunteer will at all times observe the Trust rules of confidentiality and will never abuse the privileged position in which they work, in particular with regard to their relationship with patients and their relatives in matters concerned with privacy, faith and freedom of religious views or philosophy.
  • A chaplaincy volunteer will be expected to act in consultation and under the direction and supervision of the chaplains, using them as a resource to raise and talk through particular issues/concerns arising, to pass on pertinent information and to make recommendations to the chaplains where relevant.  A chaplaincy volunteer acts as a chaplain’s representative and will be directly answerable to the chaplains and to the lead chaplain.
  • All chaplaincy ward volunteers must be willing to take part in regular on-going training and development.
  • New volunteers are taken on for an initial period of 3 months, after which they will have an initial review meeting with one of the chaplains to discuss any possible concerns (either way) and to decide whether it is right for them to make an ongoing commitment to the work/department. 
  • Thereafter all volunteers will have a review meeting with one of the chaplains to discuss their involvement and development every two years.
  • Any planned or emergency absence must be reported to the chaplaincy staff.  The chaplaincy volunteers are part of a hospital team and the chaplains need to know when a volunteer is going to be absent.
  • chaplains and chaplaincy volunteers are free to terminate involvement in the scheme at any time after mutual discussion.


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