Health sector urged to embrace volunteers
07 January 2005

London: Health sector volunteering adds quality of life for both patients and healthcare professionals, according to a report published today for the Year of the Volunteer 2005.

The authors of the study have challenged the health sector to embrace a volunteering culture, and called on senior managers to recognise, acknowledge and value volunteer projects more fully.

The "More Than Good Intentions" report, published by the National Association of Hospital and Community Friends (NAHCF), urged sector leaders to recognize the benefits of volunteers and grasp a “win-win opportunity”.

The report, which was paid for by the King’s Fund, also encouraged the health sector to tap in to the volunteering culture of minority communities which are typically underrepresented in the formal voluntary sector.

Author of the report, Ms Helen Caton Hughes, said: “The health service seems preoccupied with so many targets that people are too busy to give volunteering the priority it deserves.

“Patients, other service users and carers will often speak more freely to a volunteer than with a professional. They want to be seen as more than just their symptoms and they appreciate the informality of the volunteer culture as a chance to unwind.

“Volunteers help create a calm working environment and help free up health care professionals to focus more fully on their duties. Volunteering is also a way for people to extend their skills, developing the healthcare professionals of tomorrow.”

“I hope ‘More Than Good Intentions’ becomes a valuable resource to both volunteers and the voluntary sector as they seek to improve their contribution in this exciting year.”

The report was released as part of Health Month, the first themed month of the Year of the Volunteer 2005.

Events throughout January will aim to demonstrate that volunteers bring something unique to health and social care and that volunteering is good for mental and physical health.

The Year of the Volunteer 2005 aims to increase the number of volunteers, particularly individuals from marginalised groups and young people, raise the profile of the work volunteers are doing and ultimately thank volunteers everywhere for their time and commitment.

Visit the Year of the Volunteer 2005 site

From: The Scotsman, Scotland

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