An A-Z of volunteering on wards

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The benefits of having volunteers on wards are multiple and enormous, eg:

  • More time, energy and fresh perspectives on the ward
  • Wide range of skills and interests
  • Local knowledge, contacts and networks
  • Bridging gap between hospital and community
  • Can increase diversity of support available to patients, especially from minority communities (eg faith, BME, lesbian and gay, older/younger)
  • Increases awareness of reality of inpatient care and mental illness, reduces stigma
  • Frees up staff time to specialise in different areas


Here’s a bunch of ideas for different roles for volunteers.

An A-Z of volunteering on mental health wards


Arts & crafts

Befriending/ buddying

Benefit advice


Carer support

Chaplaincy Visitor

Clubs eg book club, film club, gardening club, computer club, art club

Computers and Internet

Dining Companion

Entertainment and events

Exercise to music

Expert patient

Fish tank maintenance

Flower and plant care


Games players (e.g chess player companion)



Home escorts for vulnerable patients

Information/leaflet organisers
Information provider


Letter writer


Magazine supplier and reader

Massage and aromatherapy massage

Mealtime support

Meet and greet/welcomer

Pampering for the ladies, grooming for the gents

PAT dogs/ animal visits

Peer educators (various projects)

Plain language volunteers (to de-jargon written materials)

Returning home support

Runner (of errands in and out of hospital)


Skin camouflage (for patients who self-harm)

Social events organisers /helpers

Speech and language volunteers

Sport companions and organisers

Support groups for specific health conditions

Therapeutic hand care

Transport (drivers)

Walking companions


Zoo visitor


With thanks to Volunteering England (

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