Cardiff and Vale University Health Board is finding new ways to involve young volunteers to benefit hospital patients.
Adult volunteers have been helping Cardiff hospitals for many
years, talking to patients on the wards and helping outpatients and
visitors to find their way. Two year funding secured from Pears Foundation has enabled the
employment of a specialist volunteering officer to develop
volunteering with children and young people.
A Youth Executive team was set up, with members aged 14 to 25
years, to give feedback and make suggestions about the development
of volunteering suitable for young people. The team meets
monthly with Kelly Marlow, Youth Volunteering Project Officer.
Research suggests that high quality youth activities should be
challenging, have a positive social impact, allow progression to
new opportunities, be embedded in a young person's life, enable
reflection about the activity and its value, and be led by young
people. These have become the six principles associated with
In the spirit of #iwill, the Youth Executive team have shaped
existing recruitment and support systems to make them more suitable
for young people. The timescale for recruitment has been
shortened by advertising a series of application deadline dates
(which means less waiting for the next opportunity to attend an
indication session), more of the induction training is delivered
face to face, with less reading expected, and guidance is given on
what to wear to a recruitment event.
Volunteers as young as 16 years can now be involved on
designated wards. 'Involving young volunteers requires a different
approach' said Kelly 'Their needs are different. We offer
more support to young people, such as arranging volunteering in
pairs on wards rather than individually, providing extra face to
face training on how to communicate with service users and
supervision sessions to ensure the wellbeing of the volunteer
The volunteering team provides information for ward staff and
volunteers which clarifies some 'do's and don'ts' that make for
successful volunteering. 'Boundary issues need to be
continually reinforced so that there is a clear understanding of
what it is appropriate for volunteers to do. Spending time
talking with patients is a high priority' said Kelly. Staff
are encouraged to contact the team to discuss new ways or locations
for volunteers to get involved.
Pharmacy students getting experience on the wards
Following an approach from Cardiff University, volunteer
placements have been arranged for 120 pharmacy students. They
attend a common induction session and then, in three cohorts of 40
volunteers, undertake blocks of volunteering for two to three week
periods on a two hours per week basis, from September to March.
On the ward they are involved in the same way as other
volunteers, supporting patients with friendly conversation and
practical tasks. Training is offered, for example in dementia care,
in order to increase their understanding of many elderly patients'
This is the second year of involving pharmacy students and the
programme is being evaluated by the university and Cardiff and Vale
voluntary services team. It is hoped that through these
placements, future pharmacists will gain valuable insight into life
on hospital wards and the needs of patients.
Digital heroes are on the way
Recruitment is currently underway for volunteer digital heroes, aged
under 25 years. Kelly has completed the training
necessary to develop the programme, which will see young 'heroes'
on the wards, equipped with ipads from Digital Communities Wales, to
assist patients in performing digital tasks.
Case study by Helpforce Cymru. Helpforce is working with Third
Sector Support Wales (WCVA and 19 CVCs), Welsh Government and other
partners to develop the potential of volunteering to support health
and social care services in Wales,
The Helpforce page on our website includes
links to recent articles, blogs and case stories.