Join us


We have around 450 volunteers and we are very proud of the priceless help and support every volunteer offers to our patients.

Unfortunately, due to the current coronavirus pandemic, we can now only offer a very limited range of roles for volunteers at Southend Hospital. And at the moment we have enough volunteers to fill these roles. 

We apologise to those of you who have applied to become a volunteer and who may be still waiting. We are hopeful that we will be able to introduce new roles over the coming weeks. If this happens, we should be able to get some applicants already in the recruitment pipeline started. 

In the meantime, however, we regret that we cannot take on any new applications. 

General Volunteering

We particularly need volunteers for the following areas:

  • To help out at our highly-successful charity shops in Hamlet Court Road, Westcliff and at Broadway West, Leigh and a third shop soon to open at Southchurch Road, Southend 
  • As Carecars voluntary drivers, transporting patients to and from hospital appointments
  • As Feeding Buddies - mealtime companions who help vulnerable patients to eat and drink
  • As Hospital Befrienders to help work with patients with dementia.  The aim of the service is to provide mental stimulation through books, puzzles, etc, with full training given
  • Working with the Royal Voluntary Service (RVS) as part of the charity's revamped trolley service

Think you might be able to lend a hand? Then we'd love to hear from you. Full details on each scheme below, plus a link to our application form. We look forward to hearing from you!

Our hospital volunteers provide unpaid services to the hospital in a range of roles designed to complement the work of paid staff. Volunteering can be anything from a few hours a day up to a few days each week - and we are grateful for it all, because each volunteer makes a valued and valuable contribution through their great diversity of skills, experience and enthusiasm.

There is no such thing as a 'typical' volunteer any more. Although there are more older female volunteers than other age / sex categories, the age range has broadened considerably in recent years. Colleges and prospective employers now place greater emphasis upon evidence of voluntary work. And more people taking early retirement and redundancies means we have a fairly diverse mix of volunteers.

The figure of 450 volunteers encompasses voluntary bodies such as the WRVS trolley service, Southend Hospital Radio and Southend Blind Welfare Organisation.

Thinking about becoming a volunteer? Download a registration form and join us.

If you are interested in helping out with the WRVS Trolley Service, please visit:


Benefits to the hospital

Volunteers can help patients and staff, and roles vary from ward help to admin assistance, to driving patients to and from their hospital appointments, to reception and information work.


Feeding Buddies

We run - and are always actively recruiting for - our Feeding Buddies scheme. Feeding Buddies are volunteers who encourage patients to eat at mealtimes; if you have been in hospital you may have noticed these red-tabarded helpers. 

Good nutrition is vital in helping patients' recovery, but many patients often need help at mealtimes, either because they're poorly or just don't feel like eating. Buddies encourage identified patients to take a few mouthfuls and also make mealtimes more enjoyable by chatting and spending time with them. The volunteers can help in cutting up patients' food, but are not expected to help those who have swallowing difficulties.

Southend Hospital was the first hospital in the country to introduce the scheme back in 2006. From small beginnings - it started on Bedwell ward - we now have more than 60 Buddies working on a variety of wards.

New Buddies are only placed on wards after they've been given full training and support. Initial training is done in a three-hour classroom session, which is held once every six to eight weeks.  There are then three 'shadow sessions'  where the new recruit is placed with a Buddy mentor.  New recruits are then placed on a ward-by-ward basis. As with all volunteers, prospective Buddies first have to successfully completing police checks, immunisations and an interview before they undergo their induction and ward training. For more information read our guide to working on the wards.

We were the first hospital in the country to have Feeding Buddies. Its founder, Bedwell ward manager Andrea Turner, often speaks about the scheme to other hospitals and to nursing conferences. Read more about the role of the Feeding Buddy or read our feeding Buddy leaflet.

Read more about the role of the Feeding Buddy and the background to the scheme

If you would like to become a Feeding Buddy, please download an application form and return it to


  • For more information please email
  • Telephone 01702 435555 ext 6135  for voluntary services
  • Telephone 01702 435555 ext 8688  for Feeding Buddy co-ordinators


Charity shop volunteers

FNR 09

Do you like dealing with people? Working as a team while raising money to help raise money for the good of the hospital?

If so, then why not think about volunteering for a few hours a week at one of our charity shops?

We have two shops, one at 183 Hamlet Court Road, next to Boots the chemist. There is parking right outside, which means we are getting plenty of high-quality donations, and there is a real buzz about the place!

The other is at Broadway West, Leigh, opposite Leigh Library Gardens. Due to the size of the premises, we can accept large items such as your unwanted furniture and offer free pick-up service. We will also deliver purchased items to your home at a small charge.

We will also be opening a third charity shop in Southchurch Road, Southend in the early part of 2019 and will be looking for volunteers to help out there.

We need more helpers to join the ranks of existing volunteers, particularly for the afternoons and for Saturdays at both shops.

Shifts run from 9.30am-1pm and from 1pm to 4.30pm, and most of our volunteers do one regular morning or afternoon a week.

Jobs include sorting stock and serving. No experience is needed and training and support are provided. All travel expenses are met.

Interested? Please call voluntary services on 01702 435555 ext 6135 (please leave a voicemail), email or please download an application form here.



Carecars patient transport scheme

This is a service for patients who have difficulty or are unable to use public transport. Voluntary drivers transport patients to and from their appointments, with the hospital covering his or her motoring costs.

Patients give a donation towards the cost of being taken and picked up of 50p per mile, starting from the time the driver leaves his or her house. Our volunteer booking clerks make every effort to pick a driver who lives near a patient to cut down on costs.

We are particularly looking for drivers living in the Leigh, Shoebury, Rochford  and Hockleyareas, plus those who are willing to travel to Broomfield Hospital in Chelmsford and to Basildon Hospital. A role description is here.

We are also looking to add to our team of booking clerks, (located on the information desk in the Cardigan Wing), who handle booking enquiries, give wayfinding information to patients looking for a ward or clinic, and liaise with drivers.

4 - carecars front

Hospital Befriender Service

Sadly, the number of people being diagnosed with some form of dementia is increasing. It's essential that patients with this condition are kept as mentally active as possible.

Our Befrienders volunteers work on the wards, sitting with designated patients to talk, read and play specially-designed games to promote alertness and stimulate memory.

Various aids to conversation are provided, for example, postcards of local places, the Royal Family, special jigsaws and books.

We would ask that volunteers commit to one two hour session each week on the same ward.

 Please contact Jane O'Connell on 01702 435555 ext 6135.

[6] Millie Bealing Feb 2016


Eye Clinic Volunteers

Southend Blind Welfare Organisation supports people with sight loss and is a charity affiliated to the hospital and voluntary services here. The group is looking for helpers to work in the Eye Unit to provide non-medical factual information about living with sight loss, to ensure information is up-to-date, and to talk to patients and carers. Full training is given.

Phone number: 01702 342131 

Maternity unit volunteers

The volunteers are situated at a desk by the entrance to the unit to welcome patients and visitors to the busy unit and direct them to the appropriate clinic room or ward.

As well as catering for new mums and mums-to-be, the unit also runs a variety of clinics and is looking for volunteers with tact, empathy and discretion in dealing with patients.

Email for an application form or download a copy of the application form here.  

All volunteers will undergo a police check and informal interview before starting. 


Hospital gardeners

Our band of volunteer gardeners do us proud. At the moment we are blessed with a team of regulars who come twice weekly and make the hospital grounds look a treat We are also blessed with the support of local companies, such as Royal Bank of Scotland and Aviva, who send teams of corporate volunteers to blitz an area on a one-day basis, especially during the summer.

[7] Bob and John gardening


Hospital library service

The hospital library trolley service volunteers provide the loan of a book and often a comforting chat for patients at the hospital.  The service is now expanding, thanks to new larger premises, which means books - paperbacks only - can be cleaned and stored safely.

Currently the service runs three mornings a week across certain wards but we are hoping to expand it to five days a week, and possibly in the afternoons, too.


Pets as Therapy

The benefits of owning a pet in helping to reduce stress and promote well-being are well-documented, and many of our patients are delighted to receive a visit from one of Pets as Therapy volunteers and their dogs.

The voluntary services department works with the Pets as Therapy charity to accept suitable PAT-accredited dogs on certain wards. Pets have to pass through a selection procedure to ensure only those of a calm, obedient and loving nature are selected. 

PAT dog


Rewards for volunteers

Each year we hold a special event - buffet included - celebrating the achievements of our volunteers to which all helpers are invited. The scheme recognises the work of long-standing volunteers or volunteers who have provided something extra special. We also hold a Christmas party, attended by the hospital chairman and other executives.


Royal Voluntary Service

The RVS will be launching a new and revamped trolley service in January/February 2019, running from 10am-4pm, and are looking for volunteers. If you can help, please click and look for the 'volunteer' section.


Contact us

Voluntary services: 01702 435555 ext 6135