About Nesta

Nesta is an innovation foundation. For us, innovation means turning bold ideas into reality and changing lives for the better. We use our expertise, skills and funding in areas where there are big challenges facing society.

Helping in Hospitals

How to take a more strategic approach to hospital volunteering and measure the impact of volunteers on patient experience.

The Helping in Hospitals programme was founded on the belief that much more can be achieved through well-designed and implemented volunteering in hospital settings - that we are only scratching the surface of what volunteering can do for ‘hospital life’. Millions of people, including young people, already volunteer in health and care, but tens of millions would consider it. And they can do more than is often supposed. With funding from the Cabinet Office and the Department of Health, Helping in Hospitals worked with ten hospital trusts from 2014 to 2016 to help them build significant impact volunteering programmes. This included increasing both the scale and scope of impact volunteering in hospitals.

The programme builds on the great work that is already happening in hospitals with volunteers. It also builds on previous research on volunteering such as Livity's Encouraging Greater Youth Volunteering in Health and Care report (2015) funded by the Department of Health.


This guide lays out how the hospital trusts did it and will, we hope, be a source of detailed advice to people who want to do something similar.

Toolkit downloads

The appendices hold some useful downloadable resources referenced throughout the Helping in Hospitals guide.


Read our report evaluating the impact volunteers have made on patient experience throughout Helping in Hospitals.