Providing support during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic

We are not currently recruiting general volunteers at Epsom and St Helier hospitals. However, there are a number of ways people can volunteer their time and skills to support the NHS and support services during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Community support

There are a large number of people who would benefit from support in our local communities. Local authorities, the voluntary sector and community action groups are coming together to support and coordinate this work, and would be happy to hear from people who may be able to help.

Epsom and Ewell area

Those who wish to help in and around the Epsom and Ewell area should contact Central Surrey Voluntary Action (CSVA) for more information and to register their interest. 

W: www.centralsurreyvoluntaryaction.co.uk (opens in a new window)
E: admin@csva.co.uk
T: 01372 722911

Surrey County Council have also set up a new community helpline, to direct people to services that can help during the COVID-19 pandemic, and to provide further advice on where those interested in volunteering can register to offer their help and support. The Community Helpline number is 0300 200 1008 (Monday to Friday, 9am-5pm).

Sutton area

This is a coordinated effort between the London Borough of Sutton Council, Volunteer Centre Sutton, Community Action Sutton and Age UK Sutton. They are building a list of people who can support those who are most at risk from the Covid-19 pandemic and others who are struggling and might need help. You can find out more and register to help via the Volunteer Centre Sutton website (opens in a new window).

Those helping might be called on to do vital tasks such as:

  • food parcel packing
  • food parcel delivery
  • telephoning vulnerable people
  • providing practical support to older people and other vulnerable groups, eg shopping
  • supporting the running of foodbanks and community meal providers
  • driving – to transport people and supplies
  • IT advice for voluntary organisations and individuals about communicating online
  • Administrative support – helping organisations to change the way they deliver services and contact people in need.

Volunteers with specialist skills or experience

If you have a clinical background or experience (eg medical, nursing, therapies, care assistant, biomedical science), please email the Volunteering Department at esth.voluntary.services@nhs.net. If you have other specialist skills you feel may be of use at this time, please contact the Volunteering Department, who will be able to advise further. Please note that any potential specialist volunteer will still be required to undergo a (shortened) recruitment process, including references and background checks (dependent on potential role).

NHS Volunteer Responders programme

NHS Volunteer Responders is a national programme to support vulnerable individuals who are self-isolating. Priority will be given to those identified as most at risk from COVID-19 and asked to self-isolate at home for an extended period, and to those who health practitioners and local authorities consider to be vulnerable. The volunteer initiative is being delivered by NHS England and NHS Improvement in partnership with Royal Voluntary Service and enabled by the GoodSam Responders app.

Members of the public can sign up quickly and easily at goodsamapp.org/NHS to become NHS Volunteer Responders, and can be called on to do simple non-medical tasks to support people in England who have been asked to shield themselves from coronavirus because of underlying health conditions. This could include:

  • delivering medicines from pharmacies;
  • driving patients to appointments;
  • bringing them home from hospital;
  • or making regular phone calls to check on people isolating at home.

NHS Volunteer Responders is not intended to replace local groups helping their vulnerable neighbours but is an additional service provided by the NHS.

GPs, doctors, pharmacists, nurses, midwives, NHS 111 advisers and social care staff will all be able to request help for their at-risk patients via the referral portal or a call centre run by the Royal Voluntary Service (RVS), who will match people who need help with volunteers who live near to them. Some charities will also be able to refer people to the service.

All volunteers joining the NHS scheme will need to undertake training and background checks that are appropriate to the roles that they sign up for. All volunteers registering on the app will need to upload identity documents, driving license (for any driving related tasks), confirmation that they have insurance (if applicable) and any other role-related information.

People can become an NHS Volunteer Responder and join the NHS’s trusted list of volunteers by visiting goodsamapp.org/NHS and adding their details to the NHS section. Read more on the NHS England Website (opens in a new window) or take a look at the  NHS Volunteer Responders RVS FAQs [pdf] 264KB.

Volunteering at our hospitals

We have made some short-term changes to volunteering at our hospitals in light of the current situation with COVID-19 (Coronavirus). Please contact the Volunteering Department by emailing esth.voluntary.services@nhs.net.

We have a large and dedicated team of volunteers who regularly give their time in our hospitals and services in a variety of roles.

They make a huge contribution to all aspects of hospital life, from patient interaction to running the hospitals' shops and radio stations, and fundraising for extra equipment.

And it's not just patients and the organisation who benefit. Volunteering is a rewarding experience that can transform your life by providing a new focus, new skills, new friends and the satisfaction of knowing that you are helping other people.

We welcome volunteers from the age of 16 upwards (18 years old in A&E and Maternity).

We have a variety of volunteer roles across our hospitals so, whatever your walk of life, skills or current situation, we hope to offer something for everyone. Volunteering really can change your life.

Volunteer information events

We regularly hold events to help people find out more about volunteer, and to kick-start the journey to becoming a volunteer. If you would like to know more about being a volunteer at our hospitals, including what kind of roles we have available and how you might be able to get involved, please register to attend one of our information events. The 2020 dates can be found below.

Volunteering Information Events 2020[pdf] 208KB

All events for St Helier Hospital take place in the Meeting Room, ground floor B Block. 

All events for Epsom Hospital take place in the Board Room, ground floor A Block.

If you have any questions about volunteering or would like to find out more before attending an event, please contact our Volunteering Department on 01372 735079 or email esth.voluntary.services@nhs.net

Become a volunteer

After attending a volunteer information event or contacting the Volunteering Department to express interest in joining the volunteer team, the process to become a volunteer can be broken down into five steps:

Step one: initial meeting

This is an opportunity to discuss what you are looking for and what you would like to get from volunteering, so we can match the right opportunity to the right person.

Step two: application pack

You will need to complete:

  • An application form and provide two referees
  • An occupational health form, which asks some basic questions about your health (we will also ask for you to provide a copy of your childhood vaccinations - if you don't have this information, please let the Volunteering Department know at the time of completing the form)
  • For some roles, a Disclosure and Barring Services (DBS) check application online (this provides clearance for you to work with vulnerable people).

Step three: DBS check and paperwork

A date to process the application for a DBS check will be arranged after your initial meeting. For more infomation and guidance on identification required, please visit the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) website (opens in a new window).

Step four: training

You will be invited to our next induction training day where you will meet other new volunteers and receive training and information about volunteering.

Step five: placement

Once all of the above steps have been completed satisfactorily, you are ready to volunteer! A suitable placement, taking into account your area(s) of interest and the needs of the hospital, will be arranged with our Volunteering Manager. You will have your ID badge processed (this needs to be worn at all times when you are volunteering, and returned to us if you are no longer able to continue volunteering). Volunteers may be eligible for an on-site parking permit which will allow you to park in staff parking areas at no cost (we cannot guarantee that a space will always be available, however) - please discuss this with the Volunteering Department.

If you are going to be volunteering through the Volunteering Department, ie not with one of our volunteer groups, you will be invited to meet the staff in your placement area who will supervise you on a day-to-day basis. We recommend volunteering for at least six months in order to gain the most from the experience.

Volunteering roles and opportunities

Motivation to volunteer comes in all different forms – whether you’re looking to spend time giving back to the community, hoping to gain a confidence boost before returning to work, or an opportunity to use and develop your skills, volunteering at our hospitals could be a positive move.

Wayfinding/Host Volunteer

  • Greet visitors to the hospital in a polite and friendly manner
  • Signpost visitors to their destination
  • Escorting patients and/or visitors to the relevant department
  • Engaging with patients and/or visitors around the hospital.

Activities and Befriending Volunteer (also known as 'Ward volunteer')

  • Work with patients identified by the Nurse in charge and/or therapists, supporting them to engage in conversation and/or activities
  • Help patients regain confidence in their ability to engage in social interaction
  • Contribute towards a positive experience for all patients.
  • Spend time and engage with patients
  • Involve patients in social interaction on a 1:1 and/or group basis
  • Encourage engagement in activities that are appropriate to patients’ abilities and interests (may include puzzles, games, quizzes and reading).

A&E Volunteer

  • Support Emergency Department staff in providing a comfortable environment for all patients and visitors
  • Contribute to a positive patient experience by providing refreshments to visitors in the Emergency Department
  • Spend time with patients who are on their own
  • Greet and signpost visitors
  • Assist with completion of the Friends and Family Test
  • Volunteers in this role must be aged 18+.

Dining Companion

  • Provide basic assistance and support to patients who need help to eat and enjoy their meal
  • Encouragement and companionship to patients at mealtimes, helping to ensure they receive adequate nutritional input
  • Contribute to positive patient experience for all through spending time with and assisting patients. 
  • Assist with serving meals and refreshments to patients; assist patients with opening packets, cutting up food
  • Spend time with patients 1-2-1, engaging them in conversation, providing social support and companionship. 

Patient Library Volunteer

  • Visit inpatient wards to engage patients about the service, asking if they would like to borrow a book from the patient library
  • Access patient library to retrieve wanted books and return books that have been read
  • Catalogue new books for the patient library.

Patient Experience Volunteer

  • Visit named wards and outpatient areas in order to gain feedback from patients about their experience of the hospital
  • Engage patients in conversation in order to obtain their feedback
  • Assist in promoting and encouraging participation in the Friends and Family Test (FFT) by handing out postcards and providing information on the FFT (if requested)
  • Obtain answers to pre-scripted survey questions about the patient’s stay, recording answers 
  • Monitor supplies of leaflets and information available
  • At Epsom, trained volunteers provide a service known as DICE - this is a mobile information service that is taken to the wards each week, making availabil additional information on help at home, support for carers, benefits, transport and specialist organisations and equipment. If you are interested in supporting this service specifically, please contact the Volunteering Department.

Epsom and St Helier Hospitals Charity Volunteer

  • Provide ad hoc support for a range of fundraising activities and events
  • Help to promote the Charity within the organisation and in local communities
  • Contribute ideas to fundraising initiatives and events
  • To find ourt more about the Epsom and St Helier Hospitals Charity please visit www.epsom-sthelier.nhs.uk/esth-charity.

Other opportunities may be available - please contact the Volunteering Department (01372 735079 or email esth.voluntary.services@nhs.net) to find out more and to talk to us about how you might be able to get involved!

Student volunteer programme

To access higher education courses students are advised to gain experience and demonstrate commitment to their chosen profession by volunteering. More importantly, it is an opportunity for aspiring medical professionals (usually those wishing to become doctors) to assess whether the profession is for them.

The Volunteering Department introduced the student volunteer programme in 2006 in response to several expressions of interest from students wishing to pursue a career in medicine. The programme differs from work experience, which is a short-term, shadowing exercise, as it offers a long-term volunteering opportunity alongside carefully selected training sessions.

The purpose of the student volunteer programme is to maximise the value received from volunteering by increasing students’ knowledge and awareness of patient needs, and to give students the opportunity to spend time in and gain experience of a clinical setting.

For more information, including a detailed breakdown of the programme and how to apply, please contact our Volunteering Department on 01372 735079 or email esth.voluntary.services@nhs.net.

Our charities and support groups

Our hospitals are fortunate to receive support from a number of groups and charities, many of which also have opportunities for volunteers (such as fundraising, radio broadcasting, or volunteering in a shop or tea bar). 

The Volunteering Department can provide further information about these volunteering opportunities, or you can read more about our charities and support groups (opens in a new window), including how to contact them directly.

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