To mark the start of Volunteers’ Week 2016, the chief nursing officer for England, has praised the work of three million volunteers in health, welfare and disability organisations.
Professor Jane Cummings said volunteers that support friends and neighbours in their communities were often “under-appreciated” and she wanted to take the opportunity to thank them.
“Volunteers make a big difference and their impact on helping to improve the health and care services we provide should not be underestimated,” she said.
“They add value to many vital services, helping people recover from ill health sooner and supporting better experience of care – and for that we all owe them a huge debt of gratitude.”
Cummings continued on to call health and care leaders around the country to meet and thank volunteers.
She also asked that they consider how their organisations’ volunteer services can be developed so that they reach their full potential in supporting the health and care of the nation.
Cummings added: “We also know that for many volunteers giving up their time to support others actually helps their own health and wellbeing, enabling them to have more control of their own lives and to feel part of, and be active in, their own community.”
Recent research from the King’s Fund suggests that around 24 million British adults would consider volunteering in the health and care sector.
She also called for more support for volunteer programmes that lack leadership and management.
“If we are to be successful in recruiting more volunteers and spreading even further the good work they do, it is critical that we don’t miss opportunities and that we realise the full impact and potential of volunteer groups in order to harness the energy of people and communities who put their heart and soul into what they do.
“We should explore innovative forms of volunteering that reach into communities or links to social prescribing; we need well supported and trained staff and volunteers alongside safe and professional practice.”
Volunteers’ week, which runs from 1-12 June, is run by the National Council for Voluntary Organisations in partnership with Volunteer Development Scotland, Volunteer Now and Wales Council for Voluntary Action.