Attracting Volunteers

During the COVID-19 crisis, attraction of volunteers into the acute hospitals is going to continue to be the responsibility of each individual Trust. This means you should continue to advertise as you do now, but you might want to look into changing current volunteer roles or develop new ones so that volunteers’ support can quickly meet the needs of your Trusts. 

Some key attraction messages to recruit new volunteers or to encourage former volunteers to come back to the Trust:
  • Despite the announcement on the 23 March asking all “to stay at home in order to protect the NHS and save lives.”, “other frontline health and social care staff including volunteers” in the NHS have been identified as key workers who can continue to support delivery of critical services and protect the operations of the NHS.
  • Volunteers have an integral part to play in supporting the NHS through the outbreak
  •  Volunteers’ safety and wellbeing will always be at the forefront within your organisation.
Who will you be advertising to?
  •  The pool of potential volunteers may well have widened – including young people and in good health, those whose work/study commitments have changed and with many corporates coming forward to offer support.
  • Your existing volunteer base who have needed to step back from their previous roles. For those volunteers, you might want to redeploy them into alternative roles that are safe for them or signpost them to community volunteering roles.
In order to maximise the success of your attraction activities, you need to identify:
  •  The roles and the numbers of volunteers that you will be needing over the coming weeks and months. You can start by working closely with departments within your NHS Trust to identify the needs. (Some examples of roles that you might want to consider are Response Volunteer, Ward Based, Virtual)
  • Who and how to attract the right people to fill those roles
  • How you can fast track your recruitment and onboarding of new volunteers (An example of fast track recruitment process can be found here)
  • How you will navigate offers from Corporate
  • How you can keep in touch with volunteers who stood down due to the outbreak and encourage them to come back for other suitable roles
  • Innovative ways that you can simply, quickly and efficiently train new volunteers
  • Consider identifying non-clinical and non-business critical staff from your Trust to redeploy into voluntary roles – many will enthusiastically offer to help; and it means staff can be immediately deployed without onboarding delays.
  • Look to back fill non-clinical and non-business critical stalls with volunteers, for example, they could provide back office support for clinical departments, such as answering phone calls, documenting, helping with admin, etc.. You could always consider looking into options to offer volunteer bank work. If they do not accept payment, that money can be used to donate to the Trust’s charity.
What else you need to know:

The NHS Volunteer Responders are looking for community volunteers so if you can’t place someone within your Trust, then please refer any interested volunteers to the NHS Volunteer Responders.

To chat with others grappling with the same attraction issues or to share your progress, get feedback on your thinking and learn from others – please join the conversation on the forum.