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Volunteering in hospitals

You don't need any special skills to volunteer in a hospital. It is up to you how much of your time you dedicate. Learn about types of volunteering roles you can do and the benefits of volunteering.

How to volunteer in a hospital

Contact your local health and social care trust and ask about hospital volunteering opportunities. Your local trust is the organisation that runs healthcare services in your area. Many trusts have a voluntary service manager or a team of people responsible for co-ordinating volunteers.

Volunteers are involved in various roles in hospitals:

  • meeting and greeting
  • meal time companions
  • helping in day care centres
  • working in the chaplaincy
  • befriending

There are around 1,600 volunteers involved across the trusts in Northern Ireland.

Applying for a volunteering role

Individual trusts will advise but you may expect to have to fill in an application form.

You must be over 16 to volunteer in a health and social care trust except in the Belfast Trust where volunteers must be at least 18. If you have a criminal record you will be asked to declare this. You may be asked to get a criminal records check.

Following submission of an application form you may be asked to have a short informal meeting with health and social care trust staff. You may also be asked to give references.

Types of volunteering roles in hospitals

There are many roles open to volunteers in hospitals. Some roles involve working with hospital staff, while others involve spending time with patients. For example, you might help staff with administrative tasks, or you might sit with a patient during an eye operation. Often volunteers spend time talking to patients who don’t have friends or family members to visit them.

It is up to you how much time you spend volunteering each week or month. However, individual trusts may ask you to commit to volunteering for a certain period of time, for example six months. Normally, volunteers are asked to be available at the same time each week or month. This allows the hospital staff to know before how much help they will have each day.

The benefits of volunteering in a hospital

Most people who volunteer in hospitals simply want to help other people, but being a volunteer can help you too. For example, volunteering in a hospital is a good way to gain experience if you’re interested in a career in healthcare. People who volunteer can find it boosts their confidence.

Volunteering and your money

If you are thinking of volunteering and you get state benefits, such as Jobseeker’s Allowance, you must talk to your local Jobs and Benefits Office adviser first. In most cases, doing voluntary work will not affect the benefits you get.

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