Young people pledge over 2,000 hours to support hospitals
21 August 2019
With more than 80 young people aged 16 to 25 volunteering at Charing Cross and Hammersmith hospitals, it is currently the biggest programme of its kind in London.
Among other tasks, the young people have delivered meals to patients' bedsides, kept patients company on wards, and handed out books and magazines as part of the volunteer-run library service.
The Youth Volunteering Programme is managed by Imperial Health Charity, which runs volunteering at the five hospitals of the Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust. The summer initiative was launched at Hammersmith Hospital in 2018 before being expanded to include Charing Cross Hospital this year.
Chris Neal, the charity's Youth Volunteering Manager, said: “The young volunteers are not only making a real contribution towards improving the hospital experience for patients, they are also investing in themselves by taking the time to build their confidence and develop essential life skills.”
This rings true for 16-year-old volunteer Tania Podoprigora, who built up her confidence by taking part in the programme.
"I'm considering studying medicine in the future," she said. "I thought volunteering in a hospital would show me what it's really like - and it's encouraged me even more."
The programme has been designed to make sure volunteering fits easily around young people's lives, with flexible shifts enabling them to contribute a minimum of 30 hours each over an eight-week period.
Collectively, young volunteers have clocked up over 2,000 hours and have recorded more than 11,000 patient interactions since the start of July.
The volunteer roles have been assigned to 19 wards and clinics across the two hospitals, including orthopaedics, endocrinology, kidney and transplant services, main outpatients and the acute stroke unit at Charing Cross.
Steph Harrison-White, Head of Patient Experience at the Trust, said: "The programme is a fantastic example of young people playing an active part in their local community. In wards and waiting areas, a friendly and welcoming face can make all the difference to patients and visitors who may be feeling concerned or anxious about an appointment."
The charity's programme is the biggest of its kind for NHS volunteers in London. In addition to the 80 young people taking part this summer, a further 50 will volunteer from September as part of the wider volunteering programme.
The programme's success comes after the charity was awarded Investing in Volunteers accreditation - the first time a NHS hospital charity has received the prestigious status.
The Youth Volunteering Programme has been established to support the #iwill campaign, which aims to make involvement in social action a part of life for young people. To find out more about this campaign, visit: www.iwill.org.uk. The National Lottery Community Fund and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport are each investing £20 million seed funding over four years to create the #iwill Fund. Pears Foundation is acting as a match funder and awarding grants on behalf of the #iwill Fund.
For more information about the Youth Volunteering Programme, click here.