Voluntary Services

Volunteering Opportunities


We would be pleased to hear from you...
If you you would like to find out more about any of the voluntary services at the West Suffolk Hospital, please contact:

Geraldine Debenham
Voluntary Services Manager
Telephone: 01284 713206

The West Suffolk Hospital is supported by approximately 350 people who help at the hospital on a voluntary basis. Our volunteers come in regularly, mostly once a week, some less frequently, and they provide us with about 30,000 hours of voluntary time to support our services.

Volunteers are registered either as individuals who help in many different wards and departments, or they may work under the umbrella of the various voluntary organisations who support our hospital. There is a recruitment and screening process for volunteers and for some placements we are required to undertake police checks through the Criminal Records Bureau.

Its important that volunteers enjoy what they do and feel comfortable with the environment and the organisation in which they are helping. Elsewhere on this web page you will find some of the different volunteering opportunities which may be of interest to you.

How long do volunteers spend at the hospital?

For your guidance, volunteers work between 2 and 4 hours per week in the first instance. More than one placement may be considered but it is important not to over commit yourself initially.

What happens when I apply?

From the information you provide on your application form if and when a suitable placement arises for which you may be considered, you will be contacted and asked to come in to the discuss the opportunities which may be available for you. 

Some of the Volunteer roles within the Hospital:

Eye Treatment Centre

Meet & Greet service - volunteers welcome patients into the Treatment Centre and escort them to their destinations as required.

A volunteer "friend" sits with a patient before, during surgery to remove cataracts under local anaesthetic. The patient has a reassuring hand to hold whilst undergoing this procedure and this can considerably reduce a patient's anxiety. Volunteer befrienders are made to feel very much part of the team.

The West Suffolk Voluntary Association for the Blind have volunteers in the Treatment Centre providing support and information to those patients with visual impairment.


Assisting our Chaplains to provide an ecumenical Chaplaincy Service by visiting patients and other duties associated with the Chaplaincy and Pastoral Care Department. Weekdays/weekends.


Play volunteers assist on F1 Rainbow Ward and in Paediatric Outpatients Monday to Friday (9am - 4pm, approximately).

General Wards

Volunteers assist staff and patients on orthopaedic, medical, surgical and elderly rehabilitation wards with general non-nursing duties, mainly mornings and evenings.

Day Surgery Unit

Patients attend for treatment or surgery as a day surgery procedure and volunteers are required to assist staff and patients in this unit.

Outpatients Department

Volunteers are needed at varying times to provide support and assistance to staff and patients attending the Breast Clinic, Cardiology Clinic and Diabetic Clinic. This role includes directing and escorting patients to various areas of the hospital and running errands.

Magazine Round

Volunteers visit wards and departments updating the magazines available to patients.

PAT Dogs

Volunteers bring in their dogs to visit patients. The dog must be vetted and registered with PRO DOG, and the owner of the dog is registered as a hospital volunteer.

Patients Library

Volunteers assist in the Patient’s Library and also provide a Trolley Service to the wards 4 days a week.

Gardening project

Volunteers needed to undertake light gardening duties to include watering, weeding and potting in our beautiful courtyards, at times convenient to you.


Information Desk volunteers provide basic information and escort patients and visitors around the hospital Monday to Friday between 9.00am and 4.30pm. This service has now been extended to include the rear entrance. Volunteers are also required to man the main reception in the evenings 5 - 7.30pm.

Red Cross Therapeutic Care

Volunteers provide hand care/massage together with neck and shoulder massage for patients – training is provided. The service is free, is very beneficial and much appreciated by our patients.

Stroke Social Group

An opportunity for stroke patients/carers to meet socially to share information and discuss issues relating to daily living following a stroke. Volunteers support the staff by providing refreshments and by socialising with patients/carers. Mondays 3pm to 5pm.


Only limited opportunities are available and these tend to be on an adhoc basis. Volunteers who wish to develop IT skills can also be trained to provide temporary notices, signs and posters.

Friends of the West Suffolk Hospital

The Friends ...need friends. So if you would like to serve on the Friends Committee and be involved with their  decision making or to find out more about their role within the hospital contact Alan Palmer the Membership Secretary Telephone 01284 764744.

In addition the Friends also help to push patients to Chapel for Sunday services on a rota basis. So if you a little time to spare on a Sunday morning contact David Lindsey, Wheelchair Co-ordinator, e-mail: davelin@tiscali.co.uk or telephone 01284 701231.

(See also: Friends of the West Suffolk Hospital in the Patient Services section for further information.)

Radio West Suffolk

Volunteers provide a professional radio service to patients from studios within the hospital. Duties include visiting wards for requests and assisting programme presenters. Volunteers also visit wards to check that radio equipment is readily available.

Women’s Royal Voluntary Service (WRVS)

Volunteers provide shopping facilities in the main entrance and a trolley service to the wards on three afternoons each week. The proceeds from these projects are "gifted" back to the hospital to the benefit of our patients.

Please see the WRVS page in the Information for Inpatients section for more information.


For more information please contact:
Geraldine Debenham
Voluntary Services Manager
Telephone: 01284 713206



West Suffolk Hospitals NHS Trust

Last Modified: April 2004