Our volunteers

Our volunteers website banner

Note: Please note that we currently pausing on recruiting any volunteers until September 2023. The application form will not be available during this time.

Our volunteers play an integral and valuable role in the daily running of our hospital.

We are very proud of our dedicated volunteers who support our people, our patients and their families in a variety of non-clinical roles.

We welcome volunteers from all backgrounds, aged 17 and over, who are compassionate, independent and enthusiastic. In return, we provide a wide range of exciting opportunities to meet others, learn new skills and most importantly, to make a difference to the lives of our patients and our people.

How to become a volunteer at PAHT banner

Step one: Complete an application form

Volunteer online application form

Note: Please note that we currently pausing on recruiting any volunteers until September 2023. The application form will not be available during this time.

Please complete the application form in full – this helps us to identify opportunities that match your interests, skills and attributes.

If you have any difficulties completing the online application form, please contact the voluntary services team on 01279 96 2660, to receive an application pack by email or in the post.

Note: You will need to have a right to work in the UK in order to become a volunteer at PAHT.

Step two: Meet with our voluntary services management team

If we have a suitable volunteering opportunity available for you, we will invite you to meet with our voluntary services management team. This is an opportunity to find out more about volunteering at PAHT, and is also a chance for us to find out more about you.

Step three: Complete the recruitment process

After you have been offered the volunteer role at PAHT, our voluntary services management team will guide you through the process of verifying identity documents, references, and completing the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check.

You will also be referred to our staff health and wellbeing team for an occupational health check.

Please note that these checks can take several weeks to be completed, please ensure that you supply the correct documentation and referee contact details (who cannot be family members) to avoid any delays.

Step four: Complete your training

All of our volunteers are required to complete online training courses before starting their new role. Alternative training options are available if you are unable to complete the training courses online - please speak to our voluntary services management team.

Some of our specialist volunteer roles require additional training to be completed, this includes wheelchair safety, nutrition and feeding, and dementia awareness. You will be informed if you need to complete these additional courses.

Step five: You are ready to start

After you have completed your online training courses, you will be ready to begin your volunteering role.

Our voluntary services team will help you to settle into your role and introduce you to the teams who you will be working alongside. They will be your key contact for the first few weeks until you feel more comfortable.

Your questions answered graphic

Can I choose where I would like to volunteer?

We offer a wide range of opportunities and encourage you to let us know what type of roles and activities you would or would not be interested in supporting with.

We will do our best to accommodate your area(s) of interest, however we may also suggest an alternative role that may be better suited to you.

Can I volunteer for the summer only?

We ask our volunteers to commit to a minimum of at least four hours per week, for twelve months. This is in order to justify the significant amount of training, investment and resources that our teams offer to new volunteers.

We appreciate that this is a significant commitment, however we aim to be as flexible as possible.

Can I volunteer if I’m under 18 years old?

We welcome people aged 17 and over to apply to volunteer with us. People under the age of 18 will need to have signed consent from their parent or guardian before starting their role.

Full-time education/employment

Volunteering can play an important part in developing students professionally and provide them with valuable work experience.

We recognise that volunteering should be accessible for all, including for those in full-time employment, who may wish to support their local hospital or learn more about a potential new work environment.

As with all other volunteers, students and those in full-time employment are asked to commit to a minimum of four hours per week, for one year, or the weekly equivalent (26 weeks) if their volunteering role is paused due to holidays.

This does not include the recruitment period which can take several months.

Can I still volunteer if I claim benefits?

You can volunteer and still claim benefits as long as the only income that you receive from volunteering is to cover expenses.

You must continue to meet the terms and conditions of the benefits you receive and:

  • Notify the benefits office that you are going to volunteer
  • Ensure that you are not receiving any payments other than travel expenses claims
  • Remain available to attend interviews at short notice and to take on paid work

You can read more on the Government website >

Who can I list as my application reference?

On your application, we ask for the names, addresses and telephone numbers of two people, who are not a relative or a friend, who we can approach for a reference.

This may include a previous or current employer, voluntary organisation manager, or a personal reference from someone who has known you for at least three years.

How soon can I volunteer after applying?

Usually, the time between us receiving an application and the start of a volunteering placement is around eight weeks, assuming that all relevant paperwork and training is completed promptly and a suitable role is available.

Please note that this timeframe can vary depending on the time taken for references to be returned and the relevant checks (detailed above) to be completed.

Are all volunteering applications accepted?

We receive a very high number of applications and we are unable to guarantee a placement for everyone who applies. This is why it is so important that you provide us with as much information as possible in your application form.

Do I need to complete another DBS check?

Many volunteering and paid roles require a DBS check and there are several different types of checks including a basic or enhanced check.

Even if you have completed a recent DBS certificate, you will need to complete another check, the checks are free of charge to complete.

Can I park my car at the hospital?

Once your car details are registered with our car parking and security team, you are permitted to park in staff car parking areas on site and additional parking facilities nearby. We also have cycling facilities available on site, including cycle racks and changing rooms.

Do I need an occupational health check?

The safety of our volunteers, people and patients is our highest priority and we ask you to undertake an occupational health check to ensure that you are fit and healthy to undertake your role safely.

Can I claim for expenses occurred whilst volunteering?


Volunteers can claim for reasonable out-of-pocket expenses for journeys made from their home to the hospital.

There is a maximum limit of £8 per volunteering session which applies to claims for travelling on public transport and mileage/parking. Where volunteers use their own vehicle, expenses will be reimbursed for the mileage.

The rates of reimbursement are in line with the authorised mileage rates outlined by the Inland Revenue – this is currently 0.45 pence per mile. Using these rates will ensure that our volunteers are not liable for tax.

Mealtime vouchers

We offer mealtime vouchers for volunteers who offer more than four hours of their time on a continued basis. The vouchers can be collected from the cashier’s office, using a verified volunteer identification badge, and can only be used for meals prepared in the Alexandra Restaurant and volunteers who offer between two and four hours of time will be issued with a drink token to purchase a hot or cold beverage from the Alexandra Restaurant.

What support is offered to new volunteers?

When you first start your volunteering placement, one of our volunteer coordinators and the manager of the area that you are volunteering in will support you whilst settling into your new role and introduce you to the team that you will be working alongside.

Where possible, we will arrange for you to spend your first volunteering sessions with an existing volunteer who will be able to guide you and answer any practical questions that you might have.

You can also contact our voluntary services management team during office hours for any support or advice.

Many of our roles will require volunteers to work independently and proactively and feel confident to approach and engage with people. It is natural to feel apprehensive or nervous during your first few volunteering sessions and it can take a little while before you start to feel comfortable in the role, particularly if you’re not used to working in a healthcare setting. Please be assured that this will pass with time and we are here to support you.

Any other queries or questions

If you have any other queries or questions, please get in touch with our voluntary services team at paht.volunteers@nhs.net

Our volunteer roles banner

Our volunteer roles

We offer a wide variety of volunteering roles, including:

  • Compassionate care (namaste) volunteer, which includes emergency department support, being a mealtime buddy, stoma support and ward support
  • Harlow Hospital Radio
  • Meet and greet
  • Administration support
  • Butterfly Volunteer
  • Chaplaincy
  • Patient Panel
  • Pets as Therapy
  • Welcome and wayfinding

Compassionate care (Namaste) volunteers

Our busy ward areas and departments, including the emergency department (ED), can be stressful for patients, in particular frail or elderly patients, or patients with cognitive impairments or mobility difficulties.

Our compassionate care (Namaste) volunteers enhance patient care and experiences by providing a range of non-clinical tasks in our ward areas and departments, including:

  • Offering companionship to patients at the bedside
  • Reading a magazine or book to the patient
  • Assisting with selecting food choices from the menu
  • Supporting the ward team and patients at mealtimes
  • Tidying the patient’s bed space and ensuring that the patient can easily reach the call buzzer, their drink, tissues and their mobile phone
  • Making refreshments
  • Restocking the cupboards with essential supplies
  • Playing soft music to the patient
  • Completing activities with the patient such as jigsaw puzzles, word searches or card games
  • Signposting the patient and their relative to other support services

Butterfly Volunteers

The role of the Butterfly Volunteer is to provide support and companionship to our patients in the last days and hours of their life. They also provide respite and comfort to family members and relatives as they face the loss of their loved one.

Our Butterfly Volunteers may provide comfort and companionship by sitting at the patient's bedside, offering them a gentle hand massage or by simply holding their hand.

This is a particularly emotional role, yet very rewarding. Our Butterfly Volunteers are provided with bespoke training and support before being able to volunteer.

Other volunteering opportunities

We have other volunteering opportunities with our partner teams, organisations and external charities, including Pets as Therapy, Harlow Hospital Radio, our chaplaincy team and the Patient Panel.

Pets as Therapy

Do you think that your dog would make a real difference and bring joy to the lives of patients, visPets as Therapy logoitors and people at our hospital?

If so, become part of the rewarding voluntary services group, Pets as Therapy. 

The team are looking for dogs and their owners who can spare a few hours each month to spend time with our patients. 

The Pets as Therapy team and our voluntary services team will be on hand to support you throughout. For more information, visit the Pets as Therapy website >

Harlow Hospital RadioHarlow Hospital Radio logo

We have a hospital radio, called Harlow Hospital Radio (HHR), which broadcasts for 24 hours a day.

The team of dedicated volunteers operate a broadcasting system and present shows to bring a smile to the faces of our patients and people.

The team are looking for new members – no previous experience is needed and you will be fully trained and supported by the team.

If you are interested in this opportunity, please contact harlowhospitalradio@live.co.uk or visit the Harlow Hospital Radio website >

Chaplaincy and spiritual care

Our chaplaincy and spiritual care team is here to offer support to all patients, relatives and our people.

A visit to hospital can often be unplanned and unexpected. Whatever the circumstances, many people feel anxious and uncertain about what will happen to them or their loved ones whilst in hospital. That’s why our chaplaincy team are on hand to listen and support – carefully, confidentially, with empathy and without judgement.  

The team comprises of ministers, priests and trained volunteers representing a range of traditions and faiths.

If you are interested in becoming a chaplaincy volunteer, or would like to find out more, please email paht.chaplaincy@nhs.net.

In addition to the general training for our volunteers, our chaplaincy volunteers are also required to attend a ten-week training course, which is usually run in the evenings.

Inpatient comment:

Everyone offered words of such reassurance and kindness. I felt so cared for and the communication with me at all times was fantastic.