Since we established the Carers Support Team in 2014, we have grown to a team of 20 volunteers who provide practical and emotional support to carers with children on Starfish Children’s Ward and in the Emergency Department at Watford General Hospital.
All our volunteers are passionate about what they do to support carers, enjoy volunteering with us and get a lot personally from it. Many but not all of our volunteers have first-hand experience of being a carer for their own children in hospital.
Our volunteers are carefully recruited, security checked, receive comprehensive training and work closely with NHS staff in the hospital.
We’d like to expand our service to carers in the Special Care Baby Unit in the near future, and we’re always on the look-out for new volunteers to join our friendly, dedicated team. Get in touch to find out more.
Carer Support Team volunteer
Simple things can make a big difference to how families cope with an admission -a cup of tea, someone to sit with your child while you shower, an explanation of the ward round times. This support is especially appreciated when a carer is not able to rely on the support of family and friends.
Carer Support Team Manager and volunteer
As a parent who spent many hours in hospital with my child, I know how long the days are and how isolating it can feel. It’s important to be able to get away from the ward for a bit to get some food or some fresh air without worrying. Our support can make a big difference to a carer’s ability to cope with being in hospital with their child.
Carer Support Team volunteer
An unexpected admission to hospital can be a nerve-wracking experience. We are there to help make admissions that bit easier – our support bolsters carers so they can support their sick child more easily. When English is limited, we organise translators. We also signpost free community services when we think carers could benefit.
Frequently asked questions
Why do people volunteer for the Carer Support Team?
There are many reasons why people choose to volunteer for us:
- Want to put something back into their local community
- Keen for others to benefit from a service they’ve received themselves
- Looking for a volunteer role that requires a regular commitment
- Want to support the NHS
- Looking for a volunteer role where they are part of a team
- Want a volunteer role where they feel valued and can make a difference – feedback from carers and NHS staff is very positive
- Attracted by regular training and support provided to volunteers.
What commitment is required?
We have high expectations of our volunteers and the role they fulfil on Starfish Children’s Ward and in the Emergency Department. We expect volunteers do a three-hour shift every week (Mon-Fri, 10.30 – 1.30). With our move to Children’s Emergency, we are also now looking for volunteers who are able to do their three-hour shift every 3 weeks between 2 pm and 10 pm to cover the department’s busier period. There are mandatory meetings every six weeks to ensure our volunteers are working effectively as a team and a mandatory formal training morning every year for all our volunteers.
How do I apply to become a volunteer?
All our volunteers are carefully selected. You would need to do a written application, attend an interview and go through security checks. We ask all our volunteers to sign a volunteer agreement when they join us.
Find out more
Get in touch to find out more and a member of the team will get in touch with you.
The best team of just lovely people who understand, listen, provide support, sanity and warmth
Carer, Starfish Children's Ward
Our Carer Support Team volunteers are a breath of fresh air; they bring relief to carers in an environment that can be stressful. Because they are not medical, they are able to bring a different and invaluable perspective - they listen, support and bring comfort.
Becky Platt, Matron Children's Services, Watford Hospital, West Herts Hospitals NHS Trust