Ministers to develop evidence base to promote volunteering in public sector bodies

The Office for Civil Society will develop an "evidence base" to promote more volunteering in public sector organisations such as hospitals and schools, according to Nick Hurd, the Minister for Civil Society.

Hurd told Third Sector that he wanted to help public bodies replicate a successful volunteering drive that took place at King’s College Hospital in Camberwell, south London, where volunteers were involved in providing support for patients.

"They have an exciting vision where the hospital will have more than 2,000 volunteers," he said.

"The volunteers aren’t providing clinical services – they’re offering support and comfort. There’s no job displacement. Nothing has been lost. But patient satisfaction has gone through the roof."

He said that he wanted the OCS to encourage this behaviour elsewhere by publishing information about how the hospital had improved volunteering and won the support of clinical staff.

"We will help them build an evidence base to show how effective volunteering has been, and we will share that information with the NHS and with other public bodies," he said.

Hurd was speaking before the chief executives body Acevo urged the government to provide funding for thousands of extra volunteers who would work with older people in hospitals and cut pressure on the NHS.

Sir Stephen Bubb, chief executive of Acevo, wrote to David Cameron, the Prime Minister, and Jeremy Hunt, the health secretary, to suggest that Acevo could coordinate work to help the British Red Cross, Age UK and the Royal Voluntary Service expand existing programmes to provide "crisis support" in 53 hospitals.

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