The value of volunteering

During Volunteers’ Week, the national medical director of NHS England, Professor Stephen Powis, is calling on health organisations to support volunteering for young people. 

Throughout my career in the NHS, I’ve seen first-hand the extraordinary impact that volunteers have across the health service.

That is why I’m pleased to support #iwill, an initiative backed by HRH The Prince of Wales, to promote volunteering and social action by young people.

I recently attended an event to celebrate the individuals who have already stepped up to this challenge, giving their time up to help others and learn new skills. I was struck by the passion and ability of those involved.

In the 70th anniversary year of the NHS it is more important than ever that we in the health service strive to engage and involve young people in our work. We want younger people to value the NHS and, crucially, recognise the many and rich career opportunities that it can offer. Evidence shows volunteering gives individuals the confidence and social skills to take on new opportunities, and also benefits patients and participating organisations by involving people who arrive bursting with fresh ideas and new approaches.

Already during 2018 over 40 health and care organisations have pledged to encourage and develop youth volunteer programmes as part of the NHS’s birthday celebrations. There are some excellent schemes underway to help you build your own programme – examples include young people volunteering as meal time buddies, and offering peer to peer support.

Blackpool Teaching Hospital is regularly involving children, young people and their families in the development and delivery of their service through a youth forum, Victoria’s Voice, that provides the organisation with new perspectives, and forges stronger relationships with young people who use their service. This in turn empowers staff to make changes to the care of patients in these age groups, such as finding ways to reduce anxiety or improve access to information.

Working with NHS Improvement, we are challenging more health and care organisations to join the 800-strong #iwill partners.

You can pledge using the #iwill website on behalf of your organisation and if you’ve already pledged please help spread the word.

Professor Stephen Powis

Stephen Powis is the National Medical Director of NHS England and Professor of Renal Medicine at University College London.

Previously he was Medical Director (and latterly Group Chief Medical Officer) of the Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust from 2006 to 2018. Professor Powis was also a member of the governing body of Merton Clinical Commissioning Group for five years and a Director of Healthcare Services Laboratories LLP.

He is a past Chairman of the Association of UK Universities (AUKUH) Medical Directors Group and has been a member of numerous national committees and working groups, including the Department of Health Strategic Education Funding Expert Group. He is a past non-executive director of the North Middlesex University Hospital NHS Trust, including a period of eight months as acting chairman.

He is a past chairman of the Joint Royal Colleges of Physicians Training Board (JRCPTB) Specialty Advisory Committee (SAC) for Renal Medicine and a former board member of Medical Education England. He was Director of Postgraduate Medical and Dental Education for UCLPartners from 2010-13. He is a past treasurer and trustee of the British Transplantation Society and a former member of the UK Transplant Kidney Pancreas Advisory Group.

He has also served as a member of the Renal Association Executive Committee. He was Editor of the journal Nephron Clinical Practice from 2003 to 2008. In 2017 he became the inaugural Editor-in-Chief of the journal BMJ Leader. He has been a trustee of several charities, including the Royal Free Charity and the Healthcare Management Trust.