Applications are being invited for a new programme launching today to trial how volunteering can help improve patient and staff experiences and outcomes and establish greater integration into healthcare planning and delivery in the NHS.
The ‘Volunteering for Health’ fund, part of the £10 million NHS England Volunteering for Health programme, will award around 15 grants to partnerships of organisations to work together to build volunteering capacity and capability. Each grant award will be a mix of tailored support and funding – up to £550,000 each over three years.
The grants programme is open to partnerships of organisations, including the NHS, the voluntary community and social enterprise sector and other local partners. Partnerships can apply for funding from 4 January until the application deadline on 23 February 2024.
The programme is being delivered by NHS England, NHS Charities Together and CW+, the official charity of Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust.
It is the first time the three organisations have worked in partnership together to deliver a joint programme, focusing on how volunteering can become a more prominent and better supported element of healthcare nationally and locally.
Designed to help deliver the recommendations of the NHS Volunteering Taskforce, the programme is calling for applications that will develop a robust volunteering infrastructure, test new ways of working that help break down barriers to volunteering, and test or develop new volunteering models.
The programme particularly encourages applications from areas that might not have worked in this way before, and those that are ready to pioneer new ideas.
Ellie Orton OBE, Chief Executive at NHS Charities Together said:
“The NHS means so much to us all, reaching us at the most important moments of our lives, often when we are at our most vulnerable. It’s so easy to underestimate the difference volunteers make within the NHS, but in fact they can make someone’s experience in hospital as a patient, or in the community so much better.
“We want everyone in the UK to experience the best healthcare possible so we’re delighted to be working with NHS England and CW+ on this initiative. The programme will encourage people to test new approaches to volunteering and recognise the true value it brings to the NHS and people’s lives.”
Dr Neil Churchill, Director for People and Communities at NHS England said:
“Time and again, we have seen how local communities rally round when it’s most needed – to support the NHS or neighbours who need some extra help. But we still tend to think about volunteers and volunteering in relation to a single organisation – whether it’s your local hospital or a local community group – and it’s fantastic that this programme will now support new ways of working in partnership to help boost volunteering capacity.
“We need to be using volunteering to reach into our local communities and address some of our most pressing health and care issues such as long waits, health inequalities and social needs such as loneliness and isolation. We are delighted to be launching this fund today to do just that, and to help volunteering thrive across the NHS.”
Chris Chaney, Chief Executive at CW+, said:
“We know there are already some incredible volunteering programmes making a huge difference to patients, and we also know that there is strength in pooling knowledge and experience and spreading that as widely as possible.
“Volunteering for Health builds on that strength, while also supporting new and innovative ideas to flourish. By working in this way, and bringing together partnership networks, we can ensure that everyone can benefit from both tried and tested schemes and new approaches to tackling some of the issues we face in the NHS and in the wider community.”
To find out more about the programme and how to apply, visit cwplus.org.uk/volunteeringforhealth. The deadline for submissions is Friday 23 February at 5pm.