Frequently Asked Questions
If you have a question about volunteering that isn’t answered here, please don’t hesitate to contact us.
Will I be able to choose where I volunteer?
We offer a wide range of volunteering opportunities and encourage you to let us know what type of activities you’d be interested in helping with (or any activities you definitely wouldn’t want to do). We will do our best to accommodate your area(s) of interest however we may also feel that an alternative role may be a better fit for you.
I’m looking for work experience – can I do this through volunteering?
We are committed to offering a variety of work experience programmes for a range of different ages, particularly students in Years 10-13. Work experience placements are often short-term (typically 1-4 weeks) and co-ordinated separately to volunteering. All work experience requests should be made through the Learning & Development team in order to be processed correctly by calling 01603 286843 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
I’m available over summer – can I volunteer for this period only?
We ask for a minimum commitment of at least four hours per week and for a minimum of six months. This is in order to justify the significant resources and investment from staff teams across the hospital, which are necessary to offer high quality volunteering opportunities and to recruit volunteers safely. We fully appreciate that this is a significant commitment though and we try to ensure that our opportunities are as flexible as possible.
Can I volunteer if I’m under 18 years old?
We welcome the opportunity to bring the vibrancy of youth to the hospital and encourage those aged 16 years old and over to apply to volunteer with us. Those under the age of 18 will need to have a parent or guardian complete a Parental Consent Form before starting their volunteering, and patient-facing roles (such as on a hospital ward) are only available for those aged at least 17 years and 6 months old.
I’m in full-time education/employment, can I volunteer?
Of course! For students, volunteering can play an important part in their professional development and is a valuable source of real-world experience. We also recognise that volunteering should be accessible for all, including those in full-time employment who may wish to give something back to a good cause, or to dip their toes in a potentially new working environment.
For all roles, recruitment and training sessions take place during normal working hours on weekdays. However evening and weekend volunteering may be possible after the successful completion of the recruitment process and will be considered on an individual basis (if you are specifically looking for evening or weekend volunteering, please make sure to mention this in your application).
As with all other volunteers, students and those employed full-time are asked for a minimum commitment of four hours per week and for a minimum of six months – or the weekly equivalent (26 weeks) if their volunteering is paused due to holidays. This does not include the recruitment period which can take several months.
For further information about student volunteering, have a read of our Student Volunteering Guidelines.
If you are a student and in need of a placement to support your course, you will need to contact the Practice Development & Education team by calling 01603 289801 or emailing PDEAdmin@nnuh.nhs.uk.
What will happen to my benefits if I volunteer?
You can volunteer and still claim benefits so long as the only money you get from volunteering is to cover expenses and you continue to meet the conditions of the benefits you receive. You will need to:
- Notify the benefits office that you are going to be volunteering
- Ensure you’re not receiving any payments other than travel expenses claims
- Remain available to attend interviews at short notice and to take on paid work
Make sure you double check what you need to do in order to continue claiming by taking a look at https://www.gov.uk/guidance/volunteering-and-claiming-benefits.
Who can I list as a referee in my application?
We ask for two character references as part of your volunteer application. These can be a previous or current manager, supervisor or colleague, a tutor or teacher, or a personal reference from a friend or neighbour. At least one of these referees needs to have known you for at least three years.
How soon after applying could I volunteer?
Typically the time between us receiving an application and the start of a placement is around eight weeks (assuming paperwork is completed promptly and a suitable role is available). This can vary depending on the time taken for references to be returned, DBS and occupational health checks to be completed, and how soon the next available induction training session is. See our Become a volunteer page for more information about the recruitment process.
Do all applicants get accepted for volunteering?
We receive a very high number of applications and are unable to guarantee a placement for everyone who applies – but we’ll do our best! This is why it is so important that you provide us with as much information as possible in your application form.
I already have a DBS certificate – do I still need to have another DBS check?
Many volunteering and paid roles require a DBS check and there are several different types including ‘basic’ or ‘enhanced’, and include the options to check whether someone has been explicitly barred from working with children or vulnerable adults.
Even if you have a recent DBS certificate you may need to complete another check if the role you are applying for requires a different type of check to that which you completed previously. Don’t worry though, your DBS check will not cost you anything (unless you are a student – see our Student Volunteering Guidelines).
If the role you are applying for requires the same type of check as you completed previously, we may be able to accept your previous certificate if you are registered on the DBS Update Service. The DBS Update service is an online subscription service that lets you keep your DBS up-to-date and enables organisations to check your certificate online (and it’s free for volunteers). For more information about the Update Service head to https://www.gov.uk/guidance/digital-and-online-services.
Can I park my car at the hospital?
Onsite parking is restricted to staff and patients unless there are extenuating circumstances meaning that you cannot use the park and ride service. Volunteers are asked to use either local bus services or the Costessey Park & Ride service which is free on production of your volunteer ID badge.
Why do I need a health check?
The safety of our volunteers, staff and patients is our highest priority and we ask you to undertake an occupational health check to make sure you’re fit and healthy enough to undertake your role, and to identify any modifications needed in order for you to volunteer safely.
Can I claim travel expenses?
We pay travel expenses to our volunteers and encourage them to use local bus services and the Costessey park and ride service. Car users can claim reimbursement, at 28p per mile, for the journeys to and from their home and the park and ride site. Facilities are available for those who wish to cycle. Volunteers may also use the staff catering facilities at a discounted rate on production of their volunteer ID badge.
What support is offered to new volunteers?
When you first start in a volunteer placement, you’ll be allocated one of our Volunteer Coordinators who will be responsible for getting you settled in to your role and introducing you to relevant staff in your placement area. Where possible, we’ll arrange for you to spend your first volunteering sessions with an existing volunteer who will be able to guide you and answer any practical questions you might have.
There is always a member of Voluntary Services available if you need us (during office hours) and staff across NNUH are very supportive and welcoming to volunteers.
Many of our roles require volunteers to work independently and proactively, so you’ll need to be sufficiently confident to approach people and talk with them. It is natural to feel apprehensive or nervous during your first few volunteering sessions and it can take a little while before you start to feel comfortable in the role – particularly if you’re not used to working in a healthcare setting – however this passes with time.