Volunteer overview

A volunteer is someone who gives their time for free and by choice. They often have skills or knowledge that they want to share.

Volunteers help in many different ways. There are a number of roles volunteers can take on in our Trust. Our volunteers make a difference by working on our wards, supporting our teams and even gardening for us. We hope that you find this page useful.

Volunteering for NHFT can also be a direct route into part or full-time employment (see Volunteer 2 Career tab below).

You can contact our Volunteer Team by email volunteering@nhft.nhs.uk or by phone: 03000 274109.

Recruitment process and mandatory training

As part of the recruitment process to become a volunteer with us, you need to complete some mandatory training.

This is the Health Education England Volunteering Learning Programme which is national training for NHS volunteers.

You can start this training at any time before completing the application form.

You will need to register on the Volunteer Learning Portal at the following web address: https://volunteers.e-lfh.org.uk/

Once logged into the portal, go to “My eLearning” and select “Volunteer Learning (VTW)”. You will then see the list of volunteer learning modules available.

Each is a short eLearning session with a multiple-choice test at the end. You can repeat the tests if you do not pass first time.

Below are the modules you must complete to volunteer with us:

  • Roles and responsibilities of a volunteer - one off
  • Data security awareness - yearly
  • Conflict resolution - every 3 years
  • Equality, Diversity and Human Rights - every 3 years
  • Safeguarding adults - every 3 years
  • Safeguarding children - every 3 years
  • Fire safety - yearly
  • Moving and assisting - every 3 years
  • Mental health awareness - every 3 years
  • Safeguarding child sexual exploitation (CSE) - every 3 yeas
  • Resuscitation (Basic life support) - one off

You have the option to complete any further modules if you want to achieve the National Volunteer Certificate.

Once you have completed all the above modules, please go to “My activity – Reports” to download all your results in one report. Select “Activity record (summarised)” and “Download as PDF”. If you join us as a volunteer you will need to send this as evidence.

Volunteer Recruitment Process

Volunteer Recruitment Process

  1. Fill out a Volunteer application form
  2. Meet us for an informal chat
  3. Fill out a health questionnaire
  4. Fill out a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check where appropriate
  5. Give us the contact details of people we can contact for a reference
  6. Do any training needed for the volunteer role - we will let you know if you need to do this
  7. Sign a volunteer agreement that explains what the Trust expects of you and what you can expect from us.

If possible, we ask volunteers to commit to at least six months of volunteering with us.

You can download a flow chart of our  Volunteer recruitment process [pdf] 128KB

You can open the volunteer application form here.


Volunteer FAQs

Volunteer FAQs

How long does the recruitment process take?

It takes about 4 to 6 weeks on average, but this will depend on a number of things including how quickly we are able to get the results of your checks and questionnaires back. 

Do I have to wear a uniform?

Volunteers who are on site will be required to wear a uniform, this will be explained to you during the recruitment process.

How old to I have to be?

You have to be at least 16 to be a volunteer. In some areas of the Trust you will need to be at least 18.

I am a student that requires a placement as part of my course or study, can you help?

Work experience or placements are offered by our Learning and Development team - click here for more information. 

What training will I have to undertake?

There are eight modules of training that need to be done, these include:

  • Conflict resolution
  • Equality, diversity and human rights
  • Fire safety
  • Health, safety and welfare
  • Infection prevention and control
  • Information governance
  • Manual handling
  • Safeguarding

How many hours do I have to give?

We ask volunteers to commit to three hours a week for six months.

I’m claiming job-seeker’s allowance, can I still volunteer?

When claiming job-seeker’s allowance you must be able to prove that you are available for paid work at all times. We advise you to check with your job-seeker advisor, before taking a volunteer role.

Do I have to come for an interview and what will it involve?

Everyone who wants to be a volunteer will have an informal chat; this could be in person, a video meeting or phone call. This is not a formal interview, we will explain more about what it’s like to volunteer with us and chat to you about your interest in volunteering, including what type of volunteer role might suit you, when you would like to volunteer and what your availability is. We will try and identify a suitable role in this meeting.

I have a paid job, can I still volunteer?

If you have a paid job, we will try to find a volunteer role that fits around your working hours.

Can I volunteer at the evening or weekends?

Some volunteer roles are available in the evening or at weekends, depending on the needs of the ward or service. Other roles such as administration may only be needed Monday to Friday during office hours.

Volunteer opportunities

Volunteer opportunities

Volunteer Bike Enthusiast

Location: Berrywood Hospital - Duston

Hours required:  Flexible

Aim of volunteering role: To support the occupational therapy team with a new group around bike maintenance and actual bike riding

Volunteer tasks: To be agreed with staff  

Skills required:                     

  • Ability to follow set procedures
  • A reliable and flexible nature.
  • Interest and skills in bikes
  • Interest in and ability to work alongside people experiencing mental ill health.
  • Good communication skills and sense of humour.

DBS Required:  Yes

Training and Induction: You will be given full training and induction in line with the volunteer role you are undertaking


Volunteer Driver

Location: Cynthia Spencer Hospice

Department:  Wellbeing

Hours required: Flexible to suit individuals

Aim of volunteering role: To transport patients to appointments at the hospice

Volunteer tasks:  

  • To collect patients from their homes and drop them back after sessions

Skills required:   

  • Good communication skills and sense of humour.
  • A reliable and flexible nature.
  • A clean driving licence
  • Appropriate insurance

DBS Required: Yes

Training and Induction:  You will be given full training and induction in line with the volunteer role you are undertaking

For more information and to register your interest please contact Rebecca Darlington  Rebecca.Darlington@nhft.nhs.uk


Volunteer Gardener

Location:  Various sites, Northampton, Kettering, Daventry, Corby

Department: Therapy Services

Hours Preferred: Very flexible to suit individuals                                                                     .

Aim of volunteering role: Such gardening volunteering would not entail co-facilitation of Patient groups, but rather people who could give their time  to help support with weeding and general maintenance  

Volunteer tasks  To help support with weeding and general maintenance

Skills required:          

  • Interest and skills in gardening
  • Good communication skills and sense of humour.
  • A reliable and flexible nature.
  • Ability to work with small groups of people

DBS Required: TBC

Training and Induction: You will be given full training and induction in line with the volunteer role you are undertaking


Volunteer Telephone befriender

Location:  From home

Department: Voluntary Services

Hours Preferred: Flexible to suit individuals  , a minimum of 4 hours commitment required                                                                 .

Aim of volunteering role: To make calls to lonely and isolated people needing social interaction by phone

Volunteer tasks:

  • To make calls to clients and feedback to the Administrator

Skills required:         

  • Good communication skills and sense of humour.
  • A reliable and flexible nature.

DBS Required: Yes

Training and Induction: You will be given full training and induction in line with the volunteer role you are undertaking

For more information and to register your interest please contact Maureen maureen.bartlett@nhft.nhs.uk


Volunteer Befriending service

Befriending service

Our aim is to provide a telephone listening support service to anyone who could benefit from social support. The service supports people who are lonely or isolated, have been in hospital or who are unable to attend social groups. Befriending phone calls are more than just a chat, as we aim to build a relationship between you and our volunteer. 

These calls do not form or replace any clinical support. We cannot provide medical advice or solve any issues for you but we do provide opportunities to talk to someone different and have vital social interaction. All our volunteers have been through their relevant training and vetting checks and are good listeners, able to empathise with the person they are phoning. 

Although informal, our conversations are confidential but a brief summary does need to be shared with the administrator. This is to help our records, with your consent, and is passed to healthcare professionals if necessary, as part of our Duty of Care and safeguarding regulations. This applies to information that might affect immediate safety, and our volunteer will ask your permission to raise this with the emergency services or our administration team for help as needed.

Who can access this Service?

Anybody who feels that they could benefit from regular calls from a friendly volunteer caller, maybe because they are feeling lonely, isolated, vulnerable, anxious, possibly can’t talk to family or friends about some things, or would just like regular contact for any other reason.

How to access this service

The service can be accessed by either a referral from a healthcare professional from any NHFT service, via System One or you can self-refer  to us by contacting the Administrator on: 03000 274109 or via email to: Befrienders.Service@nhft.nhs.uk

Volunteer 2 Career

Volunteer 2 Career

Our aim is to provide a route into work through volunteering, for people who are interested in a career within healthcare.
This pathway will give you the experience and skills you need to be able to apply for NHS jobs, including as a Health Care Support Worker (HCSW).
You do not have to pay for the training. You only need to volunteer your time with us. 
When you successfully complete the pathway you will receive your Care Certificate, which is a national qualification and gives you a much better chance of securing a paid role in the NHS.

Who can join the pathway

  • Anyone who has an interest in paid work in healthcare and who volunteers with us can join. No other experience is needed!
  • You will need to go through the recruitment process to become a volunteer and complete 40 hours of volunteering over 3 months.
  • Volunteers must be aged 18 years or over to move onto the Volunteer to Career training programme.
  • You may have the opportunity to do Functional Skills (English and Maths) courses through us, if needed, to help prepare you for the training and career opportunities.

This pathway could be a great opportunity for you if:

  • You are looking for a change in career.
  • You’re not sure if a career in healthcare is for you and want to try it out before applying for a paid job or course.
  • You are unemployed and do not have recent work experience or references.
  • You have been off work for a long time due to ill health, or other reasons, and need a gradual route back into work.
  • You have been turned down for jobs in the NHS due to lack of the right knowledge and experience.

If you are interested in volunteering or want more information, please contact our Voluntary Services Team .
Email: volunteering@nhft.nhs.uk 
Telephone:  03000 274121


Volunteer 2 Career - case study 

Tom Stewart started out as a porter for NHFT, but after two years in the job, he joined the NHFT Volunteer to Career Pathway which helped him secure a role as a Healthcare Assistant at the Forest Centre’s Spinney Ward at St Mary’s Hospital in Kettering. He was recently nominated for an NHFT Quality Award.
Tom said: “Whilst I enjoyed being a porter, I needed a new challenge and wanted to give something back to the community. Through the Volunteer to Career programme, which my colleagues had mentioned to me, I started volunteering at NHFT’s Forest Centre looking after older adults with dementia, and would assist with feeding and personal care. It was really rewarding, and it felt that I was making a difference to people’s lives and wellbeing. The Forest Centre and Training Team were very supportive when I was volunteering – and inspiring too! I achieved a National Carers Award, through the programme, and was asked if I wanted to apply for a permanent post in Spinney Ward, for which I was successful. To anyone thinking of joining the Volunteer to Career pathway, I’d say it’s a great opportunity; everyone is very supportive and flexible.”

Complementary therapy

Complementary therapy

The Northamptonshire Palliative Care Service is pleased to offer Complementary Therapy treatments to patients and carers. The treatments are given by qualified practitioners on a voluntary basis and are free of charge. All appointments depend on availability.

Treatments are available to patients on the ward or in the treatment room.

Home visits may sometimes be available for patients who are unable to travel to the hospice.

Patients will normally be offered a maximum of 6 treatments.

If you would like to arrange a treatment, or would like more information about any of the treatments listed, please speak to the nursing staff who will arrange for the therapist to contact you.


Massage is a treatment in which the therapist manipulates muscles and other soft tissues of the body. This can range from gentle stroking and kneading of muscles and other soft tissues to deeper manual techniques. It can be adapted to suit the person. It can help to relieve muscle tension, cut stress, and evoke feelings of calmness. Patients may choose a neck and shoulder massage, back massage, or just hands and arms or feet/legs.


Aromatherapy is the controlled use of essential oils to promote the wellbeing of mind, body and spirit. The essential oils are derived from plants and have distinctive fragrances and properties. Aromatherapy massage can be effective in improving sleep patterns, reducing anxiety, aiding digestion and stimulating the immune system.

Indian Head Massage

Indian Head Massage involves the massage of the upper back, shoulders, neck, head and face. It may help to relieve pain and stiffness to the muscles of the face, scalp, neck, upper back and shoulders. It has also been shown to promote hair growth, improve scalp condition and aid general relaxation.

Emmett technique

The Emmett Technique is a gentle body therapy using a light finger touch. It can be used on its own or combined with other therapies. It may help with balance issues, may ease pain and discomfort, increase mobility, aid relaxation and promote a general feeling of wellbeing.


Guided visualisation uses the power of your imagination. Your therapist will lead you to imagine in your mind’s eye a relaxing scenario, experience or series of images. The aim is to harness the brain’s positive response to the images to help you to relax, step outside of the present moment and let go of immediate stress. The technique may also help you to sleep better and may aid symptom control.

Complementary Therapies are natural and holistic treatments which can be used to complement nursing practices and medical interventions and are not an alternative to conventional treatment.


Reflexology is based on understanding that the organs and systems of the body are mapped out in the hands and feet.

By application of gentle pressure on precise reflex points the body can be brought back to balance. The benefits of reflexology can include relaxation, pain relief, control of anxiety and stimulation of the body’s own healing processes.


Reiki is an energy balancing treatment involving the practitioner placing hands lightly on the body while the recipient is fully clothed in a sitting or laying position. Benefits can include relaxation, improved sleeping patterns and a feeling of calmness.


Meet some of our volunteers

Meet some of our volunteers

Sue Dainty

“I am a listening ear, very often for those who have no-one else to share their thoughts or concerns with”

Sue Dainty has been volunteering for NHFT since October 2022, and in that time has been a friendly voice on the phone for people with mental health challenges. For Sue, hearing somebody laugh after a negative start to the conversation is a hugely rewarding part of her role, and her invaluable support is helping people across Northamptonshire.      

Volunteer Sue Dainty Sue said: “It was a natural transition; I began with the Befriending Service, as a result of my Peer Support Training Practice Placement, and have continued volunteering since then. I’d never volunteered until now, but I find it extremely rewarding. I am a befriender for those who live with mental health illnesses. Once a week I ring people who have been referred into the service from various organisations – mainly health related. I spend however long is required for each call; it can vary from two minutes to 50 minutes. I am a listening ear, very often for those who have no-one else to share their thoughts or concerns with. We can also chat about our hobbies, families, places we have visited – even the good old British weather!”

Sue added: “Knowing that I am there for people, and being able to understand how a person is feeling, gives me a sense of fulfilment. It’s about building a rapport and getting to know someone over the telephone. I use my life experiences to help others in similar situations, have a laugh with them, and learn about their life journeys.

“It can be a mentally-demanding role, so it’s important to look after your own well-being too. But I am totally supported in the role; I can ring my Befriender Calls Administrator or the Volunteer Services Manager at any time and I know they are there to provide reassurance and support.

“To anyone thinking of volunteering, it is so rewarding; it makes life more interesting and giving your time to others is great for your own well-being. I am so passionate about NHFT; they are one big family, extremely supportive, and I could not volunteer for anyone more appreciative.”

Find out more about how you, or someone you know, could be a volunteer at www.nhft.nhs.uk/volunteer or call 03000 274109.


Hayley Dodkins

“Volunteering with NHFT led to a job!”

When Hayley Dodkins started volunteering with Northamptonshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust (NHFT) she was immediately made to feel part of the team. As well as being hugely rewarding, volunteering, for Hayley, was a pathway into employment, and she now has a job with the Trust which she loves.

Volunteer Hayley Dodkins Hayley said: “I started volunteering in May 2022 with the Children's Eating Disorder Services in the admin team. I wanted to start volunteering in the children and young person services to gain experience with the prospect of future employment within NHFT. Whilst volunteering I helped by answering the door, scanning patient documents and updating the team board in the reception area with photos and names. The team was very welcoming, and I was treated as part of the team instantly. I enjoyed these interactions with staff members as well as learning about how the service works and seeing healthcare from a different perspective. However, when staff levels in the admin team increased there was less for me to help with. But the volunteering team were very supportive, and, through links with the involvement team and then the participation team, I became aware of a paid ‘carer peer support worker’ role. I applied for it, and got it! Volunteering gave me a ‘foot in the door’ and I’m now employed by the NHFT, and really excited for a future in healthcare. I would wholeheartedly encourage anyone who is considering volunteering, in an area they are interested in or feel passionate about, to go for it! It can lead to lots of opportunities, as well as having the potential to make a big difference in the lives of others.”

Find out more about how you, or someone you know, could be a volunteer at www.nhft.nhs.uk/volunteer or call 03000 274109.


Gary Shaeffer

“You can learn a lot from patients’ outlook on life”

When Gary Shaeffer’s wife passed away ten years ago, he wanted to use his time to make a difference – so he started volunteering at the Cynthia Spencer Hospice in Northampton.

Gary said: “When my wife died of cancer, I found myself with a lot of spare time which I wanted to put to good use. I’d previously volunteered for MacMillan, and had heard of the Cynthia Spencer Hospice as friends had been patients. So I met the volunteer coordinator and got started. It’s been an amazing ten years; I volunteer on the ward three days a week, bringing round the drinks trolley, and chatting with patients and their families. I get to work directly with patients and enjoy developing a relationship with them and making a difference. The hospice team and nursing staff are very nice and appreciative. I’ve got to know the nursing staff and hotel services team really well and I’ve had very positive feedback. Whilst some patients are very ill, they often want to chat, and you can learn a lot from patients’ outlook on life. To anyone thinking of volunteering, I say do it! Be willing to learn, and try it out.”

Find out more about how you, or someone you know, could be a volunteer at www.nhft.nhs.uk/volunteer or call 03000 274109.


Annette Bartholomey

“It’s nice to go home feeling I have made a difference in some way”

Annette Bartholomey has been volunteering at Cransley Hospice, at the St Mary’s Hospital site in Kettering, since September and got involved because, after retiring, she had a little more time on her hands and wanted to help others.

Volunteer Annette Bartholomey Annette said: “Due to being retired, I had more time and felt I could contribute; I also had friend who was a nurse. As part of the role, I support on the ward, talk to patients and visitors, and help replenish supplies. It’s great having some adult company and a feeling of being useful to others. I always want to find ways to be most helpful to staff and patients, and I am always thanked at the end of every shift. This is really appreciated. It’s lovely chatting to others and having good conversations, and nice to be able to go home feeling I have made a difference in some way. I’d definitely encourage people to try volunteering, but find the best role for you. For example, reception, gardening or ward duties, there can be lots of variety of roles that can be tailored to suit you.”

Find out more about how you, or someone you know, could be a volunteer at www.nhft.nhs.uk/volunteer or call 03000 274109.


Natalia Balica

“Volunteers do not necessarily have the time; they just have the heart”

Being so far away from her family led Natalia Balica to begin volunteering in 2017, and also because it had always been her ambition to work for Northamptonshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust (NHFT). She now works as a part-time healthcare assistant for the Trust, and always looks out for those volunteering, as she once did, and reminds them how valued and important they are.

Volunteer Natalia Balica Natalia, a bank staff healthcare assistant at NHFT’s Community Beds service for patients who need 24-hour care, said: “When I started volunteering for NHFT, it was mainly in Corby for the Community Beds team. I used to help with the tea trolley, with lunchtimes, and just have a chat with people if they were on their own. I always looked up to the Healthcare Support Workers; I wanted to help them and to be like them. I used to think, one day I’d like to get there, to have that uniform, you know. So yeah, that was one of the main things after that, I wanted to work in that area.”

She said: “It was really nice to see how people are looked after, and how kind the staff are with people. I was then given the opportunity to qualify for a Care Certificate, and was supported all the way. I am so grateful for that. I loved chatting with patients, listening, and supporting them. It was great working in a team who are welcome and supportive; it meant a lot to me. It’s always great to see the volunteers – especially young people. Even now, when I'm on my shift, and I meet volunteers, I always say they are doing an amazing job; and chat to them about why it’s so important for us to have so many more volunteers. When you apply to university, I am told you have to have some volunteering hours; it doesn't matter in what area. And now I understand why. You'll appreciate everything that you will go through if you volunteer a little bit. It opens your eyes and help you understand more about life. I'm not planning to stop here; I would like to do more training, and do a Level 3, and Level 4 NVQ and hopefully work full-time for the NHS.”

Natalia added: “Volunteers do not necessarily have the time, they just have the heart. It's not about time, it's about how you feel when you’re volunteering. To anyone thinking about volunteering, do it; don't think too much about it, just do it and enjoy every moment. It's like your battery’s charging every time you volunteer! I told a few my friends that if you do feel worried about anything just go and volunteer for a few hours and, believe me, you'll feel amazing after that. You'll feel so pleased and so proud that you helped someone feel listened to, supported, and valued.”  

Find out more about how you, or someone you know, could be a volunteer at www.nhft.nhs.uk/volunteer or call 03000 274109.


Dolores Monroe

“Wonderful friendships are formed, and people look forward to my calls”

As a Befriender Volunteer for Northamptonshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust (NHFT), Dolores Monroe gives people a ‘lift’ and puts a smile on their face, simply by being a friendly voice on the end of the phone, which can make all the difference to someone feeling lonely or depressed.

Dolores said: “I have been a Befriender Volunteer for NHFT since January 2022. I had thought of doing something to help others in some capacity, and thought of volunteering in a hospital, but when filling in the volunteer's application form, to my joy, there was an option of being a Befriender Volunteer which became my first choice. I really enjoy my chats with people with different needs; some are joyous, some are humorous, some can be quite sad, and sometimes it just involves listening and trying to give people a lift when they are feeling down, depressed or lonely. I like to think that I am the friendly voice at the end of the phone.”

She added: “I get to learn more about the people I call and understand what difficulties they may have. Wonderful friendships are formed, especially when you know you have been of some help, and that they look forward to the calls. The administrators are also very helpful and always there if, and when, needed and the positive feedback we get from team meetings is very encouraging.

I am very happy being a Befriender, and I would certainly recommend volunteering to anyone who would dearly like to know that they can make a difference to the lives of others.”

Find out more about how you, or someone you know, could be a volunteer at www.nhft.nhs.uk/volunteer or call 03000 274109.


Mo Palmer

“Everyone I work with is so helpful and happy.”

In over 30 years of volunteering for the Cynthia Spencer Hospice, Mo Palmer has seen a lot of changes, and says the best bit is “being with people”. The hospice, located in Kettering Road, Northampton, has 16 beds and is supported by a team of nurses, doctors, healthcare professionals and volunteers, who are experts in palliative care for those with a life-limiting illness, and their families.

Mo said: “Back in 1991, I had just completed my training, at Northampton College, when I saw an advert in a newspaper from the Cynthia Spencer Hospice. I met the Sister there and began training with her and qualified. Since then, I’ve provided complementary therapy, support patients and staff, and sometimes families at the hospice. I also provide massage and reflexology.

I enjoy being helpful and hopefully bringing peace to patients at a difficult time. I love being with people, and helping them find time to relax, whether it’s staff at the hospice or patients. The feedback I get is that people always enjoy the treatment; patients are grateful too, and enjoy the one-to-one contact.

I’d definitely recommend volunteering here. A lot of people think the hospices are only places for people to die, but there are many reasons people come, and volunteers are really appreciated. It is actually a very happy place, with a friendly and relaxing atmosphere. The people I work with are so helpful and happy.”

Find out more about how you, or someone you know, could be a volunteer at www.nhft.nhs.uk/volunteer or call 03000 274109.