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Hidden Workforce Report - Skills for Health

Hidden Workforce Report - Skills for Health

‘The

‘The Hidden Workforce’- Volunteers in the Health Sector in England 4. What do volunteers do? 4.1 In this chapter we explore the different types of roles which volunteer undertake in the healthcare sector. Key Findings: • Volunteering England has identified 111 volunteering roles within the healthcare sector • The list is not categorised, but we distinguish between roles which require skills or knowledge peculiar to the healthcare sector and those which do not • … and within the latter group between those with direct patient contact and those without it 4.2 The Cabinet Office’s Helping Out survey, already cited, shows the most popular roles for all volunteers, regardless of sector. Fundraising 4 comes top, involving nearly twothirds of all current volunteers, this is followed by helping to organise events, which involves exactly half: Fig 4.1: Most common volunteering roles Source: Helping Out, 2007 4 The term was presumably interpreted quite widely by respondents to the survey, for example to include car boot sales, and should not be understood only as professional fundraising. 22

‘The Hidden Workforce’- Volunteers in the Health Sector in England 4.3 Though some of the other roles on the list are more likely to involve volunteers in the healthcare sector – notably ‘befriending’ – the report does not, unfortunately, categorise volunteer roles by sector. 4.4 Volunteering England, however, publishes on its website a list of no fewer than 111 roles undertaken by volunteers within the healthcare sector – and challenges site users to nominate others (which may be why Baroness Neuberger’s report two years ago referred to it as ‘101 roles’). We reproduce the list in full at Appendix C. 4.5 It is simply a list, and Volunteering England makes no attempt to classify it. It ranges from flower arranging to fundraising, from reflexologists to readers. Many roles are wholly unskilled, (like serving tea), or require every day skills (like driving); some require modest training (like ‘meeters and greeters’) and a few require specialist training (like radio presenter or counselling). Some require great personal attributes (like befriending in palliative care settings). 4.6 Charles Handy 5 distinguishes three broad reasons why voluntary groups exist: for mutual aid, to provide services to others, and for advocacy. That list works as well for individual volunteers, and there are clearly examples of all three amongst the 111 roles identified by Volunteering England. 4.7 Advocacy is particularly important for many patients with mental health problems, who are especially vulnerable and who may not be able to speak effectively for themselves. Mind provides a peer advocacy service, run by people who have suffered from mental illness in the past, and who are therefore well able to bridge the divide between the current service user and medical and nursing staff. 4.8 More useful to Skills for Health, we suggest, would be to categorise the list by the type of briefing or training required by a new volunteer. We suggest three: a. roles which require knowledge or skill which is particular to the healthcare sector; b. roles which do not require knowledge or skill which is particular to the healthcare sector – but in which volunteers are likely to have direct patient contact; c. roles which do not require knowledge or skill which is particular to the healthcare sector – but in which volunteers are unlikely to have direct patient contact. 5 Understanding Voluntary Organisations, 1988 23

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