NHS Improvement celebrates youth social action during Volunteers’ Week

During Volunteers’ Week, Ruth May, Executive Director of Nursing for NHS Improvement, comments on the organisation’s recent pledge to the #iwill campaign

A few weeks ago, I was privileged to attend the Prince of Wales’ 70th Birthday Patronage Event at Buckingham Palace. Professor Stephen Powis, the National Medical Director of NHS England also attended. We were both invited by Step up to Serve, who run the #iwill campaign and where Sian Jarvis, Director of External Relations at NHS Improvement, serves as a trustee.

NHS England are helping celebrate the NHS landmark 70th birthday by supporting volunteering as a key theme, and you can read some fantastic volunteer stories here. This week I read Professor Powis’ blog where he detailed how NHS England is working with NHS Improvement to challenge more health and care organisations to join the 800-strong #iwill partners.

At NHS Improvement, we are delighted to work with NHS England and also pledge to the #iwill campaign. I encourage all those working across health and care to find time during Volunteers’ Week and beyond to support us in thanking all the volunteers who give their time providing support in health and care and within communities.

Volunteering was recognised as a key element in the Five Year Forward View and is essential to support the Next Steps on the FYFV to engage with communities and patients in new ways, to ‘mobilise collective action’ and to support healthy communities.

Volunteers make a huge contribution to our health and care services. They add real value to many services, contributing to better experience of care for patients, working alongside and supporting our dedicated workforce and, in the process, improving their own health and well-being, skills, experience and social connections.

I hope that Volunteers’ Week, and the work of Step Up to Serve, both help to inspire health and care leaders to go out and meet their volunteers and thank them in person. But I’d like leaders to go further than this by making a commitment to consider how they can support and develop their own organisation’s volunteering services. I have personally asked colleagues to consider how they may want to contribute.

Volunteers’ Week is also a great chance to celebrate our own volunteering efforts and I encourage colleagues to share their own experiences of volunteering across social media and in person. In addition, the #iWill campaign puts real energy behind the ambition to get young people involved in volunteering and social action – in fact, my own daughter, at the age of seven, was inspired by this initiative to volunteer with her local hospital, delivering home-baked brownies to hardworking frontline staff during the harsh winter earlier this year.

Please do share during Volunteers’ Week and via the hashtags: #NHS70 #WhyVolunteeringMattersToMe #VolunteersWeek #IWill

I would like to finish by saying thank you to everyone that volunteers in some way, no matter how small you feel your contribution is – the impact will be felt by many and is greater than you can ever know.

Ruth May

Ruth enjoyed national appointments with NHS Improvement and Monitor, as well as regional and trust leadership roles, before becoming the Chief Nursing Officer (CNO) for England in January 2019.

In June 2022, as part of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee Honours, Ruth was awarded a DBE for her services to nursing, midwifery and the NHS since she started her nurse training in 1985. Upon receiving her Damehood, Ruth recognised the expertise of nursing and midwifery colleagues in caring for people at every stage of their lives and the vital role that the professions and care staff played during the pandemic. Ruth has led the nursing, midwifery and care professions’ response to COVID-19 in England and led collaborative work with UK CNO colleagues, the NMC and trade unions to ensure agreement and consistent messaging on key issues.

She is passionate about nurturing the next generation of NHS nursing and midwifery leaders and encouraging professional development opportunities. This includes advocating for improved mental health awareness, championing volunteer activity to support the frontline workforce, and she is a vocal supporter of the WRES agenda and increased diversity across the NHS.

Proud mum to her wonderful daughter, Ruth is a great believer in a healthy professional and home life balance for all.

Find Ruth on Twitter @CNOEngland / #teamCNO.

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