Frequently Asked Questions

If you have a question about volunteering that isn't answered here, please don't hesitate to contact us.

What happens after I send my application?

Once we receive an application we will contact the referee(s) you have listed, and ask them to reply within three weeks.  If you have not heard anything from us three weeks after you applied, please get in touch.  Provided your reference(s) are ok, you will then need to complete a DBS check and OH clearance.

Can I use volunteering as my work experience placement?

Volunteering is different from work experience: you will be asked to make a longer commitment (at least 6 months) and complete a recruitment selection process. If you wish to use your work placement hours for volunteering, you should agree this with your school/college placement co-ordinator beforehand. We will only be able to vouch for your time as volunteering. If you are interested in short term work experience (less than 6 months) or work shadowing, these are managed by our Aspire team. More information is available at www.bwc.nhs.uk/aspire.

Can I volunteer here for my Duke of Edinburgh Award?

We are in the process of becoming an approved DofE activity provider, so in the meantime,  if your DofE supervisor is happy for you to volunteer with us, we can sign off for the hours you complete.

What can I expect to do as a volunteer?

Have a look at our role descriptions to find out more.

Is there a minimum or maximum length of time I can volunteer for?

We ask all volunteers to make a commitment of at least 6 months, to enable you to make a meaningful contribution to our patients and families.  If you are a Young Adult Volunteer, on completion of the 6-month YAV programme you are welcome to continue your regular visits or move onto something new. Group-Led and Junior volunteering is project-based, but we encourage you to apply for one of our regular volunteering programmes on completion of your volunteering project.

Can I volunteer more than three hours per week?

Adult Volunteers – Yes, you are welcome to volunteer for up to as many as three sessions of three hours week.

Young Adult Volunteers (YAVs) – The year-round YAV programme involves a commitment of three hours volunteering per week. However, when you graduate after six months, you will be able to volunteer more flexibly if you wish. We also accept YAVs who would like to do more intensive volunteering during the summer holidays. See the below section on completing hours for details.

Can I volunteer at both the Women’s and the Children’s Hospitals?

Yes. Both sites offer very different volunteering experiences, so if you are interested please let us know so we can help you arrange your uniform and ID badges.

Can I volunteer with Forward Thinking Birmingham?

Yes but FTB will decide who they wish to pursue from the application form.

I’ve applied for the Young Adult Volunteer Programme. How can I complete my hours?

There are currently only two ways you can complete your 72hrs of volunteering:

3hrs a week for 6 months

12 full days (9-4 with an hour break) during the school summer holidays.

Who can I ask to provide a reference?

Young adult volunteers: Either one educational reference or two character references from friends who are over the age of 18 and have known you for more than two years. We are unable to accept references from family members.

Adult volunteers: Two references from any of the following who have known you for at least two years – friends, workplace, education. We are unable to accept references from family members.

What do I do if you haven’t received my references?

Please make sure you get in touch with your referees beforehand to make them aware they will be contacted. Also double check you have provided us with the correct email addresses.

What do I do if I need to change my informal chat date or time?

If you email bwc.volunteers@nhs.net we can remove your original slot so you can pick a new one.

Informal chats are held at both the Women’s and the Children’s Hospitals - which site should I attend?

You only need to attend one appointment, at the hospital site where you have applied to volunteer. If you are interested in volunteering across both sites, please choose whichever hospital is most convenient for you.

What are the requirements to be able to volunteer?

Volunteering at both hospitals is very popular, and we carefully select those volunteers who will be able to make a positive impact on the experience of our patients, families and staff and be an ambassador of our Volunteers Service. To ensure the safety of patients and volunteers, you must successfully complete the following to join us:

  • An informal chat
  • Occupational Health clearance – Among other things, this means having received your Hepatitis B, MMR & Tetanus vaccinations.
  • Trust Induction – This means reading our Trust Induction training information and then reading through, signing and returning the Trust Induction Declaration.
  • An enhanced DBS certificate  – This will require you to fill in an online form with various details that we can verify after seeing your identity documents. You will receive this in the post usually within one to three weeks. If you already have an enhanced DBS certificate from another NHS organisation or education provider, please let us know.
  • Young Adult Volunteer Training (YAVs Only)  – This is a two-hour group training session designed to give you practical guidance about volunteering, including in challenging situations, and enable you to meet other young volunteers.  These training sessions run twice a month, in the evening.

What if I fill in something wrong on my online Occupational Health form?

If you fill something out incorrectly on your form, do not worry. When you receive a call to arrange your appointment you can let them know on the phone.

Where can I get proof of vaccinations to use for Occupational Health?

You can either use your baby book/red book, or go to your GP to request a copy of your vaccination records. If you ask your GP, remember to let them know it is for NHS volunteering, as often they will provide proof free of charge.

What should I do if I don’t have proof of my vaccinations for my online Occupational Health form?

If you cannot find or do not have proof of your vaccinations to provide, please upload a blank word document. By doing this, the Occupational Health team will require you to undergo a blood test so that they can check for any vaccinations you are missing.

What do I do if the Occupational Health team does not contact me?

If you haven’t heard anything after five working days, then you should try to ring the Occupational Health team on 0121 227 7117. The best day to ring is on Mondays between 9am and 4pm.

What documents can I bring to an informal chat as evidence for my DBS application

When you come for your chat, please also make sure to bring photocopies of each document.

You must provide at least one form of photo ID and then an additional two that confirm your address.

Can use

  • Valid Passport (any country)
  • Valid Full or Provisional Driver’s License (UK, Isle of Man, Channel Islands and EU)
  • Birth Certificate (UK Only, or issued by UK authorities overseas)
  • Bank statement (issued within the last 3 months)
  • Utility bill (excluding phone bills, issued in the last 3 months)
  • Biometric Residence Permit (UK Only)
  • Adoption Certificate (UK & Channel Islands)
  • Marriage/Civil Partnership Certificate
  • HM Forces ID card
  • Firearms licence
  • Letter from Head Teacher or college Principal (16s-19s in full-time education only)
  • Mortgage statement (issued in the last 12 months)
  • Bank or building society account opening confirmation letter (issued in the last 3 months)
  • Credit card statement (issued in the last 3 months)
  • Financial statement, for example pension or endowment (issued in the last 12 months)
  • P45 or P60 statement (Issued in the last 12 months)
  • Council Tax statement (issued in the last 12 months)
  • Work permit or visa (must be valid and in date)
  • Benefit statement, for example Child Benefit, Pension (issued in the last 3 months)
  • Central or local government, government agency, or local council document giving entitlement, for example from the Department for Work and Pensions, the Employment Service, HMRC (issued in the last 3 months)
  • EU National ID card (must be valid)
  • Cards carrying the PASS accreditation logo (must be valid)

Can't use

  • School/College ID card
  • National Insurance number
  • Bank statements over 3 months old
  • Payslips
  • A benefits statement that belongs to a parent/guardian, not yourself

If I already have a DBS certificate can I use this for my DBS check?

Provided your DBS is enhanced and has been issued within the last three years by an Educational Institution or an NHS trust, we can use this.

For the Children’s Hospital your DBS certificate must cover vulnerable children, and for the Women’s Hospital, it must cover adults.

What will the induction process look like?

When you are ready to start volunteering you will first need to organise an ID badge appointment. On the day of your appointment, you will be asked to come to the Volunteers Hub to receive a branded polo shirt, and Reflective Journal (for YAVs). We will also take you to the ward or department you will be starting in, to introduce you to the team before your first volunteering shift.

When will I be placed?

All our volunteers begin volunteering on either the first full week or the third week of every month.

What should I do if I am unable to attend for my scheduled volunteering visit?

Once you have started a regular role, if you are unable to attend for any reason, please call the ward/department you are volunteering on directly. Please follow this up with an email to bwc.volunteers@nhs.net so that we can make a note.

What should I wear whilst volunteering?

All volunteers are required to wear a polo shirt and ID badge to clearly identify them as part of the Volunteers team.

In addition, to volunteer on a ward you must follow infection control guidelines:

  • Being bare below the elbows (no long sleeves or jewellery)
  • Hair must be tied up  if it is longer than shoulder length
  • No nail varnish/polish/gel/acrylic nails should be worn
  • Wear flat, closed in shoes.

Is there somewhere to park?

Our Women's Hospital has a pay and display car park immediately by the front entrance and there is a multi-storey car park D, situated nearby.

The Children's Hospital does not have an onsite parking facility, and we encourage you to travel by public transport.

Do I have to pay for parking?

We have limited parking at our Women's Hospital, volunteers after 5pm on a weekday or anytime on a weekend can have a car park pass for a deposit of £10. Unfortunately volunteers on weekdays until 5pm would need to pay in the visitor car parks.

Except in exceptional circumstances, we are unable to reimburse any parking charges at Birmingham Children's Hospital as the site is well served by public transport.

Will my travel expenses be paid?

Yes, we encourage our volunteers to travel by public transport, as parking at the Hospital is very limited. Upon receipt of evidence, we will reimburse travel up to a maximum of £8 per day. 

I have lost/damaged my volunteer polo shirt, can I get another one?

You are responsible for the polo shirt we supply you with. If this becomes lost or damaged, you can request an additional shirt but will be required to cover the cost for a new shirt.

Will you be able to provide me with a reference once I start volunteering?

We will provide you with a reference if you have been volunteering with us regularly for at least six months.