It’s Volunteers’ Week – a time to say ‘thanks’ (by Rachel Robinson, Volunteer Services Manager)


Volunteers’ Week takes place every year from the 1-7 June. This year is the 38th annual celebration of Volunteers’ Week, and it is an important time for volunteer-involving organisations – such as ours – to reflect on the incredible contribution that volunteers give. This year the theme for Volunteers’ Week is ‘a time to say thanks’ – a simple, and yet often underrated act.


As Volunteer Services Manager, it is my role to develop volunteering across the charity, whilst ensuring that we recruit and manage our volunteers in the right and best way. I love my job and it’s an absolute privilege to meet and work alongside so many wonderful volunteers. And so thinking about reflection, it really has been an incredible 12 months for the charity. We’ve grown our volunteer programme significantly and now have volunteers working with us in many varied ways. We’ve launched our retail function, opened up volunteering to 16 and 17 year olds, welcomed volunteer support at more events than ever before, and developed new administrative roles in our head office departments. In the past year we’ve worked with 239 volunteers, who have given a whopping 9,623 hours of their time – a record for Leeds Hospitals Charity. We are still learning and there is always room for improvement, but I am very proud of our achievements this year.


It’s also important to reflect on the impact that Leeds Hospitals Charity volunteers make. In writing this article I spoke with colleagues who see this impact every day:


Wasim Hussian, Trusts & Foundations Officer, said: “Trusts & Foundations fundraising involves time-consuming research to gather information, which is then used to write compelling funding applications. I work with a small group of volunteers, who log-in from home, and their support this year has been invaluable in helping to gather material and evidence for such applications, which has contributed to income generation for the benefit of staff, patients, and families at Leeds Teaching Hospitals.”


Kelly Myers, Head of Retail, told me: “Volunteers are the beating heart of our organisation, and we couldn’t do what we do without them. This past year has been truly exceptional, and our volunteers have helped us evolve both retail units in terms of growth and success. I am humbled to have such an incredible group of volunteers working alongside the retail teams, and many of our volunteers have gone on to become members of staff.. The wealth of knowledge our volunteers have truly makes a difference to how we run our retail units, and you learn something new every day! Thank you to all our volunteers for everything you do."


CEO Esther Wakeman shared: “Volunteering is an important part of our strategy. It’s essential that we work together with people and organisations across the city and region to grow donations and Gifts In Wills to fund more projects across Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust and raise awareness of the work we do – and volunteers are our best ambassadors. This past year we have seen our volunteer community grow, which is so exciting. I want to thank every volunteer who has chosen Leeds Hospitals Charity to give their time to. I want to thank our corporate supporters who have donated their time to support volunteering. Every volunteer role supports our aim to enhance the patient experience and so I’d like every volunteer who chooses us as a charity to volunteer with, to know that the time they give directly supports the projects we fund which impacts staff and patients across our hospitals.”


Looking forward to next year I’m looking forward to seeing volunteering grow even further, to be able to work with volunteers in even more ways, and to welcome back our volunteers into the hospitals. But for now, I’d like to say a few final thank yous:


Thank you to our senior leadership team for investing in volunteers. We’re incredibly lucky to have the time, money and resource invested in our volunteering programme to make it grow, thrive and be the best experience it can be for our volunteers.


Thank you to our Board of Trustees for their dedication, knowledge and expertise. People often forget – or don’t realise – that charity trustees are volunteers, and you give a remarkable amount of your time.  


Thank you to the partner organisations we work with. You offer incredible support to your clients, supporting them through our volunteer recruitment and onboarding processes so that they can gain positively from volunteering.


Thank you to every charity staff member who supervises and supports volunteers in your role. You go above and beyond to ensure that the volunteer experience is as positive as it can be.


Finally, if you are a current or previous volunteer reading this article – the biggest THANK YOU of all goes to you. We simply couldn’t do what we do without your passion, skills, smiles, insights and dedication. We know how lucky we are to have your support, so thank you for working alongside us – here’s to what we can achieve together over this next year!