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Mission to double hospital volunteers

Addenbrooke’s has launched a major recruitment drive to double volunteers working at the hospital to 400, after numbers dropped over the pandemic.

The service was suspended from March 2020 because of the pandemic and although the Trust was able to welcome back some volunteers in July 2021, further variants of COVID stopped a full return until May 2022.

By that time many volunteers were understandably wary about returning to a healthcare setting because of their own and family health vulnerabilities, and others had moved on to new opportunities.

Voluntary services manager, Maggie Brown, said:

We feel now is the right time to proactively recruit volunteers into the hospital, and further boost the much needed service that is so appreciated by our patients and staff.

Voluntary services manager, Maggie Brown
WATCH - the new volunteering film

WATCH - the new volunteering film


Video transcript

Bill: Being a volunteer is a great way to to learn new skills, to give something back to the society, to the hospital.

Maura: We welcome volunteers from all backgrounds, all age groups. Everyone has something different that they can bring. I can't emphasise enough the importance of volunteers. It's bringing in our local communities to look after our patients.

David: Quite often the volunteers are the first people that patients, visitors and staff see when they arrive in the hospital. A friendly face. You can point them in the right direction or can give advice is a great start to a visit to our hospital.

Bill: You do feel immensely valued and the staff thank you. The staff are very good at thanking volunteers.

Laura: Having the volunteers on the ward. We've had some really exceptional people. They've been very, very friendly and very, very helpful.

Volunteer: Volunteering has really improved my confidence.

Volunteer: Volunteering has really opened doors for me.

Volunteer: Volunteering has taught me really great communication skills.

Bill: It's a fantastic challenge as well and it's something I really, really enjoy and I would absolutely recommend it to anybody.

Amanda: We really would like to welcome you to the CUH family. We really do value the support that you can bring to your role as a volunteer and supporting us to deliver high quality care to the patients in our hospital. Thank you.

Volunteering opportunities are being highlighted via promotional events, social and traditional media, the Trust’s website, and through a newly created film that highlights the breadth of work volunteers do.

Volunteers must be over 16-years-old and able to commit at least two hours per week for a minimum of 26 weeks, although there are programmes of 10 weeks (five to six weeks in summer) for younger volunteers.

In return for their time, volunteers get a corporate induction and welcome, e-module training essential to volunteering in healthcare, a variety of traditional training programmes designed to help them in their roles, and local mentoring.

It all adds up to a comprehensive package, and new skills – such as communication, listening, and team work– are transferable into other roles.

Volunteer Sigrid
Volunteer Sigrid

For some years research has shown there are well-being benefits associated with helping people, it is an opportunity to socialise, and with the CUH site covering 73 acres – it is a good opportunity to stay fit.

Volunteers help in all sorts of different roles. On the wards they socialise with patients, breaking the boredom and bringing some cheer and distraction. The hospital has guides who meet and greet patients and visitors and give them directions, or escort them to their location.

Clinic volunteers help to make outpatients visits more comfortable – greeting them, keeping them informed about waiting times, and escorting them to other areas of the hospital for tests. Library volunteers take trolleys of books to inpatients, and activity pack volunteers provide puzzles, quizzes, crosswords and more to help pass the time.

Volunteer Tengyu
Volunteer Tengyu

Parking marshals at Newmarket Road park and ride drive-through phlebotomy service help direct cars, allowing safe and efficient flow of traffic, while wheelchair volunteers help to collect and distribute equipment around key stations at Addenbrooke’s.

Dementia champion volunteers work with frail patients, and others work in admin support roles. Leaders are constantly working with staff on site to develop new opportunities, and three times per year run programmes specifically for volunteers aged 16-18.

One volunteer, Joe, started at Addenbrooke’s 12 years ago and hasn’t looked back. He said: “I’ve done quite a variety of jobs, from selling newspapers on the wards to interviewing potentially new volunteers but guiding is my favourite as it gives me the chance to meet loads of people and get some exercise in at the same time.

There is a lovely atmosphere in this hospital - it’s down to the staff who really appreciate what we volunteers do to make their days run a little smoother.

Volunteer Joe

Jon had two good reasons for volunteering. He explained: “I started because Addenbrooke’s provided such good support when my wife was pregnant with our twin boys and one of them was struggling.

My main activity is moving wheelchairs around the site to make sure there are enough in all areas. It's enjoyable because of the fresh air, exercise and the opportunity to help people who are a bit lost!

Volunteer Jon

PAT dog volunteer Paula said: “It is very rewarding to be part of such a big, well-known hospital and yet always feel welcomed and appreciated for what I can bring to making people’s experience a little bit better.

I knew my dog Lola would be the perfect PAT dog because she is friendly without getting too excited or bouncy. It is an absolute delight to take her into the wards and departments see the happiness and comfort she brings to people.

Volunteer Paula

Maggie added:

Volunteers have long been a strong part of the CUH team - established for well over 50 years. During the COVID pandemic we lost a number of volunteers, so now more than ever we are keen to recruit and rebuild this amazing support force. I would urge anyone who is interested to get in touch with us

Voluntary services manager, Maggie Brown

Anyone who is interested in becoming a volunteer should visit the Trust’s dedicated web pages.