If you have ever visited or stayed at Derriford Hospital or the Royal Eye Infirmary the chances are you will have come into contact with one of our 600+ volunteers. It could have been a Hospital Guide at the front desk at Derriford, a ward visitor, a chaplaincy helper, a shop or café volunteer, a Mustard Tree Day Centre befriender or even if you simply listened to Hospital Radio or read a St John’s library book, our volunteers can be found enhancing the quality of patient care throughout the Trust. However, there’s always room for more.

Our Trust welcomes volunteers to complement the work carried out by paid staff.  There are currently around 600 volunteers helping throughout the hospital but there is always room for more. If you are considering a career in the NHS volunteering is a great way to help you decide. 

For further information about volunteering please contact Elizabeth.pollard@nhs.net 

Anyone over the age of 16 who is able to help on a regular basis for at least six months can apply. Here are some of the areas where volunteers can be found: 

Ward Visitors

If you would like to get involved on our wards, helping our patients, why not think about becoming a ward visitor?  Your role could include talking (and listening) to patients, helping with meals and refreshments, shopping, running errands or bed making.  You would normally visit the same ward on the same day each week and become part of the team.  Ward visiting is available every day and hours can usually be tailored to suit the individual, which is ideal if you are working, studying or retired!  For people considering a career in healthcare, this role offers an ideal opportunity to gain a real insight into hospital life.

Ward Visiting Team

These volunteers visit several wards each time they come in.  Their role is to chat and listen to patients, offer shopping and run errands.  The team meets each weekday morning and is a good opportunity to get to know other volunteers. 

Patient Surveys

We are keen to know what patients think about their stay in hospital and have a team of volunteers who visit the wards to find out.  Either using a paper survey or an iPad (training is provided and it’s really not complicated) volunteers seek patients’ views to help us improve our services or let us know what we are doing well!

New for 2017: Emergency Department – Friends & Family Test Volunteers

Our Emergency Department (ED) volunteers are pivotal in gaining views from patients being discharged from our Emergency Department, using a short, standard survey conducted using an iPad or paper.  We want to know what we do well – and not so well – to help us do even better!

In addition, ED volunteers can help by running errands for staff and chatting to patients.  For those considering a career in healthcare, some work shadowing may also be possible – enabling you to see first-hand the workings of this busy service.  Minimum age 18.  Slots available throughout the week, training provided.

Hospital Guides

If you enjoy walking and talking then showing people around the hospital could be for you.  Based at the reception desk, Hospital Guides are always kept on their toes! 

Outpatient Clinics

We are actively seeking additional volunteers for our busy outpatients areas to meet and greet visitors and patients, help them to book in and find their way to their clinic. This is a varied and interesting role

Ambulatory Care

Get lost?  Not in this role! The Ambulatory Care (ACE) team, is looking for volunteers to help escort patients from the unit on level 6, to areas within the hospital where they require tests or investigations – directions will be given - or to the main entrance when they are discharged (no wheelchair pushing involved).  This varied role will also involve chatting to waiting patients and helping with refreshments. 

Hospital Radio

Volunteers can be found presenting shows, helping with administration, behind the scenes or fundraising for this award-winning station.  Why not listen first on 87.7fm in the Plymouth area.

Derriford Hospital League of Friends

Derriford Hospital League of Friends has a gift/fruit shop and a bookshop in the main concourse. Volunteers attend a 2-3 hour shift, usually once a week.  Committee membership and fundraising are also areas where help is needed. Minimum age is 18 for shop volunteering.

Royal Voluntary Service Library

The Library trolley service offers patients a choice of books to borrow while they are in hospital, while the library itself is open to both patients and staff on Mondays and Thursdays.  Volunteers visit the wards with the trolley and are on-hand in the Library when it is open. 

Department of Pastoral/Spiritual Care

Volunteers can help in the chapel in a number of different ways, ranging from administration, pastoral ward visiting, assisting patients to the chapel services on Sunday, as part of a church team.  Volunteers are also welcome to provide and arrange flowers, on a rota, for the chapel itself. 

Mustard Tree/Macmillan Centre

This day centre for cancer patients and their relatives gives volunteers the opportunity to befriend visitors and offer general help.  Complementary therapies such as massage and reflexology are also offered by volunteers with appropriate qualifications and insurance.

Memory Cafe

We are looking for volunteers to support the Memory Café each Wednesday afternoon from 2.00pm-4.00pm in The Restaurant.  This role involves befriending patients, families and carers, chatting and listening; helping to serve refreshments and offering literature to those wishing to find out more about dementia and related illnesses.

REI Tea Bar

The Royal Eye Infirmary (REI) League of Friends runs a Teabar in the REI Outpatients Department on Level 3.  It’s open daily (excluding weekends) from 10-2 and welcomes new volunteers to join the rota.


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Volunteer Booklet

How do I become a volunteer?

Please contact Elizabeth Pollard, Volunteer Co-ordinator Level 5, Derriford Hospital, Plymouth PL6 8DH. Telephone: 01752 792646 or by email via the Contact Us form. 

The Application Process 

This may vary slightly depending on the type of volunteering you wish to do. A regular commitment of at least six months is requested. All volunteers need complete an application form and a health questionnaire, some roles also require a DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service) check which must be cleared prior to starting volunteering.  You will then be invited to meet the volunteer co-ordinator who is responsible for the area in which you have expressed an interest. 

To become a volunteer you should be reasonably fit and active, friendly, a good listener and committed to your voluntary role.  In return you will find helping in your local hospital a very rewarding experience!