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Volunteering FAQs

Is there an age range for volunteers?

Currently, you must be 18 years of age to volunteer at the University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust (UHB). There is no upper age limit providing you are in good health.

What skills and experience do you need to be a volunteer?

We don’t need our volunteers to have any particular skills as we will provide all the training you need. We do ask that our volunteers are over the age of 18 and can be kind, even in the most challenging situations.

It is important that our clinical teams develop strong relationships with their volunteers, which is why we ask for a minimum of 12 months’ commitment from you. In return we will do everything we can to ensure that you have a positive experience of volunteering at UHB. 

What commitment is required to volunteer at UHB?

Regular commitment from our volunteers is essential. All we ask is for you to give three hours per week to support our patients and that if your application is successful you agree to volunteer for us for a minimum of 12 months.

Please think carefully about your busy life and if you are able to fit in three hours every week to support the patients and staff at UHB. If you can, we look forward to hearing from you, if you are unsure please contact us to discuss what options may be available.

Many of our volunteers give more than three hours of their time each week and attend on more than one day, some in different places. The amount of time you can give will be discussed at your interview.

We don’t expect 100% attendance from volunteers but please do consider whether you are able to make a regular commitment before you complete your application.

Where might I be placed as a volunteer?

As we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic, we have had to take a different approach to placing volunteers across the Trust. We risk assess everyone and will only place volunteers in areas that are suitable for them as individuals.

Volunteers who are clinically vulnerable will not be placed in areas such as the Emergency Department, where COVID-19 patients might present and we will not place any volunteers on the dedicated COVID-19 wards.

Will I need to have any checks as part of the recruitment process?

We will ask you to submit an enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service (criminal record) check. Please be honest on your application form if you have ever had any convictions, no matter how minor or how long ago. 

NHS staff and volunteers are exempt from the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act but this does not mean that we will not accept applicants with a criminal record. We also carry out DBS checks every three years for all volunteers.

You will be asked to complete some health questionnaires that will be reviewed by our Occupational Health team who may make recommendations for restrictions on where you can volunteer. We no longer routinely request references as we recognise that this can sometimes be a barrier to applying.

We will ask you to provide evidence that you have a right to work in the UK (this is a legal requirement that we need to comply with). This can be in the form of a British or Irish passport or Home Office documentation.

Will I be interviewed?

Following the submission of your application and being shortlisted, you will need to attend an informal interview.

The interview will involve discussions on why you want to volunteer, your background and the kind of role that interests you. The interview process also helps us to find you a suitable volunteer placement within UHB.

Unfortunately, not everyone is suited to volunteering at UHB so you may not be successful. Many of our roles attract a high volume of applicants so our volunteer recruitment process is competitive.

Will I receive volunteer training?

Once you have been cleared to start volunteering, you will be asked to complete an online corporate induction. This involves an overview of the Trust and a series of training modules including fire safety, information governance, infection control, safeguarding, load handling and other topics. The training takes around five to seven hours to complete but does not have to be done all at once. 

Training is essential to ensure that you can volunteer safely in a hospital environment and that you don’t put yourself or anyone else at risk. In addition, you will also be required to update some of your training on an annual or three year basis to continue volunteering. 

If you are not able to access a computer to complete the training or you don’t feel you have the necessary computer skills, please let us know as we do run face to face inductions but this may delay your start.

What happens once I have finished my training?

Once you have completed the recruitment process, you will be invited to a local induction where your volunteer manager or coordinator will provide you with your uniform and run through some final checks before taking you to your placement. At this time you will be given information on how to claim expenses and may be asked to complete some additional training or given extra information depending on the role you have chosen.

Whilst you are a volunteer at UHB you will need to attend yearly update training on selected topics. There are also other training opportunities available depending on the role you undertake.

We will try to ‘buddy-up’ new volunteers with existing experienced volunteers who will support you until you feel ready to volunteer independently. We recognise that the hospital, particularly wards, can be very busy and might seem overwhelming to start but the majority of new volunteers soon become familiar and comfortable in their surroundings.

If you have chosen to volunteer in a clinical area such as a ward, you will need to comply with the local infection control rules. These include being bare below the elbows (no sleeves, watches or bracelets etc), only wearing one plain ring with no stones and no long fingernails (false or own). There are regular inspections on the wards by the infection control nurses and they will challenge any staff or volunteers not following the guidance.

Will I be given a uniform?

Yes, it is important for all our volunteers to look smart and professional. The uniform also allows patients, staff and visitors to identify you easily.

You will be issued with a uniform that is appropriate to your volunteer placement which can vary from a tabard, fleece, sweatshirt or polo shirt.

All volunteers will be issued with an ID badge that must be worn at all times whilst volunteering. All volunteers must follow the dress code.

Can I volunteer if I am out of work and receiving benefits?

Volunteering at UHB will not affect any benefits that you are receiving, providing you still meet the conditions of the benefits you currently receive.

The GOV.UK website offers more information on volunteering whilst receiving benefits.

Will any expenses incurred whilst volunteering be reimbursed?

Yes, you can be reimbursed for your travel expenses up to a 10 mile radius of the hospital you volunteer; this includes public transport or mileage allowance.

If you require a car parking permit, this will incur a one off charge of £10.00 to cover administration costs and deposit. The fee is refundable if you decide to withdraw your services as a volunteer.

Limited car parking spaces are available at UHB from 08:00 – 17:00, Monday – Friday. For evening and weekend volunteering there are more spaces available.

An off-site ring and ride service is available between 08:00 – 18:00. Details will be provided following successful volunteer applications.

What if I don’t like my placement?

If you are successful in your application to become a UHB volunteer we will make every effort to place you in a department that is appropriate.

There is a three month probation/settling in period when you start volunteering. We will contact you at six weeks to see how you are getting on, then again at 12 weeks to discuss your progress and any problems you may have, plus we will check if the role is right for you.

If you are not enjoying the placement and finding it difficult to settle in, please speak to your placement supervisor to discuss your progress and any issues. If you are still not enjoying this placement, then please contact the Voluntary Services team who will endeavour to find you an alternative placement.

Last reviewed: 01 February 2023