Camden and Islington NHS Foundation Trust (C&I) has been awarded a £75,000 grant to help further develop the role of volunteers in offering emotional support and enhancing the experience of service users in a mental health setting.
C&I is the only NHS mental health trust of 12 NHS trusts nationally to win a grant and join a new Volunteering Innovators Programme, identifying the most promising volunteering initiatives across the country that can be spread to other NHS settings.
The scheme is being run by Helpforce, an organisation working with hospitals to enhance the benefits of NHS volunteering. It will work with the recipients on their volunteer innovations to refine them so that they can be shared with other trusts. C&I’s award is being funded by NHS England.
C&I was selected for a grant following a competitive process which saw 115 applications from 90 trusts. It has a well-established programme of volunteer support in many of its mental health services, with a pool of around 60 active volunteers, a third of whom have or are still using the Trust services
One of the most popular volunteer roles is C&I’s trolley service which provides a shop and library function for service users who are unable to leave the Trust’s two hospital sites. Other initiatives include providing volunteer support for receiving feedback from service users, helping during their clinic attendance and activity sessions, and providing “befriender” support.
Jo Scott, C&I’s Voluntary Services Manager, said: “Our volunteers play a significant role enhancing the care patients receive when they are going through a particularly difficult time in their life, possibly most importantly, by providing them with social interaction outside of that of the health care professionals. It shows them that other people who aren't paid to be there also care about them and their recovery. This can be significant for some patients in helping to build their self-esteem, breakdown stigma and helping to reduce any isolation that they may feel or experience in relation to their mental ill health.
“A number of our volunteers, many of whom bring their own valuable lived experience of mental ill health and their recovery, help us to collect meaningful and independent feedback from our patients. We use this to improve the patient experience and shape and develop our services in a way that’s right for them. We are looking forward to working closely with Helpforce to expand this work further for the benefit of all.”
Paddy Hanrahan, Managing Director of Helpforce, said: “We received a huge number of applications from trusts wanting to become part of our new programme, which is testament to the enthusiasm for the development of effective volunteer roles.
“Working closely with leading trusts, voluntary sector partners and NHS England, we can create a future where safe and reliable volunteering in the NHS is part of our everyday lives, helping patients and our brilliant frontline staff to get the very best from the health service.”
The Volunteering Innovators Programme launches alongside the publication of new Helpforce findings showing the positive impact that volunteers can make for patients and staff, following an evaluation of the organisation’s work with five trusts that have been testing volunteer roles since 2017. The findings include showing how volunteers can free up time for NHS staff to focus on their core roles, support vulnerable patients at mealtimes, and how they can assist with the patient discharge process.
Helpforce is working with hospitals, healthcare workers and the public to create the future of volunteering in the NHS. It wants to see a recognisable improvement in the range and quality of volunteer roles available to support patient care in hospital and at home.
HelpForce was formally established as a Community Interest Company in September 2017. Both its Board and Advisory Board includes leaders from across the NHS, voluntary and wider public sector.
The Trust was rated ‘Good’ by the CQC at its latest inspection in December 2017. We provide mental health and substance misuse services to people living in Camden and Islington, and a substance misuse and psychological therapies service to residents in Kingston.
We have two inpatient facilities, at Highgate Mental Health Centre and St Pancras Hospital, as well as community based services throughout the London boroughs of Camden and Islington. Our Trust is also a member of University College London Partners (UCLP), one of the world’s leading academic health science partnerships.
We provide services for adults of working age, adults with learning difficulties, and older people in the London area either in a community or inpatient setting.
Our annual income is around £150 million and we have approximately 1,800 staff. Our staff work in multi-disciplinary teams providing a holistic approach to recovery. This means that we often work with partner agencies and the voluntary sector. Camden and Islington Mental Health and Social Care Trust was established in 2002. In March 2008 we became the first Care Trust to achieve Foundation Trust status and are licensed by NHS Improvement.