Nancy, the Young People Volunteering Project Co-ordinator at University Hospital Bristol NHS Foundation Trust, writes on the progress of their Pears #iwill fund young volunteer programme.

“September and October are very busy months for the Voluntary Services team. As students return to Bristol’s universities, colleges and schools, we see an increase in the number of applications to join the Trust’s team of volunteers. This year, these applications have increased further because of the partnership and recruitment work that has been funded by the Young People Volunteering project.

An initial partnership pilot programme carried out with City of Bristol College, and some of their Health & Social Care students, has resulted in eight volunteers beginning with us over the past two weeks. These volunteers have already carried out placements in care homes and community projects, so they come to Voluntary Services with valuable experience and a willingness to understand and engage in what, for the CQC,  makes UH Bristol an outstanding Trust.

Each volunteer will give 100 hours of their time to our patients, staff and visitors, on regular days throughout the winter. They’re scheduled to support wards through their Befriender roles, and to provide wayfinding information to BRI, BHI and BHOC visitors. The Voluntary Services team worked hard to accommodate the career interests of the volunteers. For example, one volunteer who intends to train as a paramedic, has been located on a busy, dynamic ward that will bring in some of those paramedic experiences.

Another volunteer was initially very reticent about volunteering on a ward for the elderly, after a negative working experience in the past. But as soon as the volunteer toured our wards, and met our staff, the anxiety was gone and the enthusiasm was huge.  It’s great to think that everyone in the Trust changed that mind, just by doing their jobs so professionally and making our volunteers really welcome and part of the team.

All these ‘newbies’ are under the age of twenty, and we hope it’s the beginning of long and successful relationships for them with their local Trust. We look forward to counting up their volunteered hours and providing great references for them as they achieve more confidence, interpersonal skills and communication competencies. We hope they’ll be really successful and submit those references in-house to become more permanent UH Bristol fixtures one day. But for now, we can see their green shirts whizzing around on a weekday!”