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Belfast Trust Volunteer Services

What is volunteering?
Who can volunteer?
How to volunteer
What our volunteers do
Volunteer stories
Expenses
Contact details


What is volunteering?

If you have some free time, you may want to consider being a volunteer for Belfast Trust.

Volunteers play a crucial role across a number of Trust locations. The care and attention they provide compliments the services provided by our front line clinical and nursing staff.

By giving over some of your spare time, you can make a big difference to people’s lives. There are also potential benefits for you, including:

  • Greater confidence – volunteering can boost your confidence by giving you the chance to try something new and build a real sense of achievement.
  • Being part of a community – you can feel part of something outside your friends and family.
  • Learning new skills – develop new skills, gain experience and maybe even get new qualifications.
  • Meeting people – meet people from different walks of life and make new friends.

Giving your time, whether it be at least one morning or afternoon per week, is gratefully received by everyone.

Who can volunteer?

You don’t need any previous experience to become a volunteer. You must be at least 17 years old, but there is no upper age limit.

We currently have volunteers from student age through to well beyond retirement age. They have a wide range of skills and interests.

We want people with qualities such as:

  • reliability
  • honesty
  • good interpersonal skills
  • ability to work as part of a team

We also need volunteers who can use sign language or speak another language.

How to volunteer

You should first complete the volunteering application form and return it to us at the address below.

It takes approximately six to eight weeks to complete the recruitment process. This process may include:

You will also have a one-to-one discussion with a volunteering coordinator. They will explain the various roles, responsibilities and current vacancies.

If you are successful, we require a minimum commitment of nine months as a volunteer. There is no upper limit on how long you can volunteer. We will be as flexible as possible to fit your volunteering in with your lifestyle.

If there are no available placements when you apply, you may be placed on a waiting list for future placements.

What our volunteers do

There are volunteering opportunities across Belfast Trust. Some volunteers are based in hospitals, day centres and supported housing. Others are based in the community.

Volunteer roles include:

  • befriender
  • arts volunteer
  • meet and greet volunteer
  • chaplaincy wheeler (taking people to church)
  • reader
  • ward helper
  • storyteller and musician
  • day care volunteer
  • elderly care hospital guide
  • peer support volunteer
  • horticulture volunteer

Volunteer stories


  • Ruth Campbell - meet and greet volunteer

    Photo of Ruth Campbell

    Ruth is one of our meet and greet volunteers in Bridgewater Suite, Belfast City Hospital.

    Here Ruth tells us about her volunteering role…

    “I have been a volunteer with the Belfast HSC Trust for 15 years. It is one of the best decisions I have made since my retirement. I am mostly in the usually crowded waiting area where both oncology and haematology patients come, often with a family member, to attend their specialised clinic in order to receive cancer treatment or to be reviewed.

    “Initially, coming to Bridgewater can be a daunting experience – the beginning of an unknown journey! I am privileged as a volunteer to share in a small way in the hopes and fears of so many cancer patients. On a busy day, I may be involved in the practicalities of finding seats for people or serving much appreciated cups of tea or coffee, while always being aware of those who need special attention.

    “Often a simple enquiry can unlock a life story or the pressing need, as one lady put it, for a cup of coffee to calm her down! Some patients I get to know well as they attend on a regular basis for long periods. One lady tells me of her anxiety as she waits today for scan results. Then there are the joyous words of the young woman who tells me: ‘I’m in remission’.

    “There are so many shared expressions of hope and encouragement and the simple joys of life like: ‘Taking the scenic road on the way home’, ‘Buying new plants for the garden’, ‘Plans for a holiday’.  And most memorable for me, the expressions of care and concern – the closely held hand of a loved one or the arm around the shoulder.

    “I am privileged to be a volunteer in Bridgewater and to share in some small way in the lives of those with cancer. I would like to commend the medical and nursing staff for their wonderful care and treatment of all their patients. Also I wish to thank all the staff for their warm welcome and support to me in being a volunteer in Bridgewater.”

  • Arnette Martin - meet and greet volunteer

    Photo of Arnette Martin

    Arnette is one of our meet and greet volunteers in the Macmillan Support and Information Centre, Belfast City Hospital.

    Arnette tells us about her volunteering role…

    “My name is Arnette and I am 73 years old. I joined the team at the Macmillan Support Centre in November 2021 as a volunteer.

    “At 72 I decided it was time to hang up my boots as far as paid work was concerned, so I retired from working life and thought with my background I may be a suitable candidate for volunteering. I wanted to consider a cancer charity first as I had lost two close family members to this dreadful disease and I knew the great work that went on at the Macmillan Centre. So I registered with Macmillan, had a chat / interview and was delighted to be offered a shift with this great organisation.

    “After an induction at the centre and meeting various very friendly staff members, I was ready to go. My role is greeting people when they come into the centre, offering tea or coffee and generally trying to make them feel welcome with a smile and a chat. I have found that some may have received bad news, they may not even know what they want, but it is a combination of just wanting to tell someone the news they have just received or wondering what support is available.

    “The Macmillan Support Centre is presently doing therapies and have a number of great information booklets, even help with money concerns and I am happy to chat about what we do. Although when speaking to people it could become so easy to be tearful, I try to be positive and strong.

    “I would recommend volunteering as I have taken so much from it already and I feel I am giving something back. I am looking forward to continuing in the role and gaining more knowledge as a volunteer as time goes on.”

  • Keith Thompson - musician and meet and greet volunteer

    Photo of Keith Thompson

    Keith is a valued member of the Belfast Trust volunteer team and has been involved in many different roles. He has been a volunteer musician in several locations including the radiotherapy waiting area in the Cancer Centre. Following some restrictions after Covid-19, Keith continues in volunteer meet and greet roles in the Macmillan Support and Information Centre and the Cancer Centre.

    Keith tells us about his volunteering journey…

    “I began volunteering with several organisations after suffering a long period of severe illness. It was a way of repaying society for the care I had received at the time and have continued to receive ever since (now 37 years). Also, I started playing guitar again as a hobby after a gap of many years and had a feeling that music in a care setting, particularly waiting areas, would be of benefit. The problem was where?

    “Artscare Week in Belfast City Hospital offered an opportunity to tour the hospital and test the music in various settings. The radiotherapy waiting area clearly worked best. From the first day, patients spoke and expressed their appreciation of how the music had helped them on their journeys. The music appeared to help relax people who may otherwise have been tense before their treatment, and provided an ice-breaker for conversations with their fellow patients.”

  • Sadia Biswas - meet and greet volunteer

    Photo of Sadia Biswas

    I am happy to say that my experience volunteering with Belfast Trust is rewarding. I was a student who wanted to do some volunteering with the purpose of gaining hospital ward experience and helping others along the way. However, I found that you end up gaining more than you actually gave in the first place.

    My experience has been that volunteering is all about connecting with people and your community. But it’s also about discovering yourself, because it teaches you many things that can’t be learned from student books.

    One of the most important things I have learned while volunteering is the value of time. I have more than enough time available to give to others and volunteering only makes that time more meaningful and worthwhile.

    Volunteering is no small role. It is a responsibility you sign up for to make others smile. Even the smallest difference you can make by helping others, without having the intention of getting anything back, can make you a better person.

    I found out about volunteering in Belfast Trust through a friend. I’m very grateful there are such amazing opportunities made available to us, where we can be part of an organisation that promotes goodness and aims to improve the quality of life of others.

  • Claire Mallon - breastfeeding peer support

    Photo of Claire Mallon

    My role as a volunteer began more than 11 years ago following the birth of my son. At that time, I was employed by a local sure start organisation where I had a good introduction to the benefits of breastfeeding.

    It was really my own experience as a breastfeeding mum and seeing the benefits first-hand that ignited my passion to not only promote breastfeeding, but to support other mums who were unsure about breastfeeding or perhaps finding it tough.

    I went on to have two daughters, the last being a little surprise, which also turned out to be my most challenging breastfeeding experience. It was my turn to receive the support of fellow volunteers and the breastfeeding peer support team. This service gave me the encouragement, reassurance and determination that I needed at that time.

    I like to think this experience helped strengthen my role as a volunteer and restored my enthusiasm to give back to the service by supporting other mums in similar positions.

    I get a great sense of achievement from my volunteering role and although it is often simply a listening ear and some reassurance, I believe that volunteering is a vital service.

  • Raymond McLaughlin - meet and greet volunteer

    Photo of Raymond McLaughlin

    My name is Raymond McLaughlin and I started as a meet and greet volunteer at Meadowlands Elderly Care Unit, Musgrave Park Hospital in January 2020. I had retired from work and had some spare time after the recent passing of my mother.

    My role in Musgrave is still on hold but I was given the opportunity to become a meet and greet volunteer at the Outpatients Department in the Royal Victoria Hospital. The role is similar as it involves directing people to where they want to go, although the RVH is much larger than Musgrave Park Hospital so people appreciate being taken and I enjoy the chat along the way.

    I also phone for wheelchairs and taxis or lifts with family members, which is much appreciated.

    I enjoy meeting other volunteers and people from all parts of the world, helping put them at ease and getting them to where they need to go.

    I get a sense of achievement after arriving home from volunteering and it helps me relax in the evenings.

    Volunteering has helped me overcome depression as it gets me out and uses up time in a worthwhile way. It has also helped me stay mentally fit and active.

    I have met and talked to some very interesting people while doing my volunteering and strongly recommend it to anybody who has some spare time on their hands.

  • Evan Bingham - meet and greet volunteer

    Photo of Evan Bingham

    I became a volunteer with the Belfast Trust (or its predecessor Green Park Healthcare Trust) in 2002. I had always wanted to experience working in a hospital and it provided me with some weekly respite while I was caring for my late mother.

    My role involves meeting and greeting everyone who passes through the Outpatients Department of the Royal Victoria Hospital. This includes people attending appointments and visitors who need:

    • directions to wards or other locations
    • wheelchairs
    • taxis
    • help with many other inquiries

    I particularly enjoy meeting and chatting with a wide variety of folks, including getting to know the staff who work in and around the area.

    It’s good to be able to help other people, especially those with disabilities who need that little bit of extra time. A listening ear is sometimes the best thing you can give. The role is generally busy and this gives me a sense of satisfaction at the end of a shift.

    I have met and made friends with quite a number of other volunteers over the years. Unfortunately, our role means we rarely see volunteers who cover other shifts. The Christmas Coffee Morning and volunteer celebration event in June are most enjoyable and it gives volunteers the opportunity to meet and talk to one another.

    Many people express their appreciation for the service we provide. Many take time to thank you on their way out, which is very nice. On one occasion, a lady who we had given some help to on her way in stopped at our desk and placed two Kit-Kat bars on it saying “That will do you with a cup of tea”.  We certainly don’t expect that, but such a kind and thoughtful gesture can make your day!

  • Jim Kilpatrick - adult patient carer

    Photo of Jim Kilpatrick

    My name is Jim Kilpatrick and I have been volunteering at the Royal Victoria Hospital since September 2018. I had a liver transplant in April 2018 and was supported before, during and after my operation by the RVH Liver Support Group, who have been providing patient and carer support across Northern Ireland since 1998.

    After my transplant, I offered to help the group in any way I could and was invited to become an adult patient carer. It’s a great way to give something back. I speak confidentially to liver patients or their carers face to face at the group’s helpdesk in RVH Outpatients, or by phone or other means.

    For patients, being able to speak to someone who has already gone through a similar journey offers the chance to ask questions and get reassurance.

    My role is very fulfilling, with many patients providing very encouraging feedback. I like being able to give vulnerable patients more confidence about their transplant journey and being there when they need to discuss how they feel.

    In addition to my adult patient carer responsibilities, I am also now the group’s Chairman and Treasurer. I have always been someone who others can confide in – a trait essential in a volunteering role within the healthcare environment. It has been humbling to see how comfortable patients are confiding in me.

    Volunteering, in all forms, can be very fulfilling. It can provide an opportunity to give some of your time, knowledge, skills and personality to assist others. It can be the ideal next step for someone who has recently retired and needs something to do with their time. And importantly, it can fit around you and your life. I would encourage anyone in a position to do so, to volunteer now.  There will be an ideal role for you.

  • Lin Hudson - meet and greet volunteer

    Photo of Lin Hudson

    My name is Lin Hudson, I have been a meet and greet volunteer in the Emergency Department of the Royal Victoria Hospital for several years now.

    Having over 20 years’ experience as a complementary therapist, I wanted to use my skills to make a meaningful contribution to my local hospital and community by volunteering.

    The ED is a very busy department. No two days are ever the same. Sometimes there are very challenging situations, but there’s nothing in the world like the feeling of giving back by helping others and being supportive to nurses and staff.

    It’s a privilege to listen to patients’ and relatives’ stories and interact with people from many cultures and walks of life. It’s particularly rewarding assisting families in the relatives room who have seriously ill relatives in Resus. I can help by keeping them informed as to what’s going on behind the scenes, giving updates, making them a cup of tea or just being a listening ear.

    It can be a very stressful time for patients in ED so if I can answer a question, solve a problem, escort them to various departments or make them feel less anxious or lonely, then I know I have been helpful.


Expenses

You can claim back any lunch and travel expenses you incur while carrying out your voluntary work.

Contact details

Please return your completed application form to:

Volunteer Services Department
Musgrave Park Hospital
1st Floor, McKinney House
Stockmans Lane
Belfast
BT9 7JB

Telephone: 028 9504 4195
Email: volunteerrecruit@belfasttrust.hscni.net