News and events

News and events

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NELFT NHS Foundation Trust provides a range of community health and mental health services across the north east London Boroughs of Barking & Dagenham, Havering, Redbridge, Waltham Forest, Essex and Kent and Medway.

Read the latest NELFT news, including information on our services, new trust staff, research and development of our services.

Celebrating Pastoral Visitor volunteers making a positive impact on patients, carers and staff

Illustrations of people on a blue background. Text reads: Volunteers. Leaders of volunteers - voluntary and paid. Volunteer impact. Helping others help.

The Chaplaincy Team at NELFT offer spiritual, religious, or pastoral support for staff, patients, and carers. Volunteers are an integral part of the team, trained by a joint training programme held jointly with EPUT. The programme looks at communication, spiritual and religious competency, bereavement, mental health, and the hospital environment.

The Trust aims to provide spiritual, religious or pastoral support within all of our 7 Directorates and currently has 8 Pastoral Visitors, who volunteer in physical health wards.

Paul McNamara, Spiritual Care Lead at NELFT, said:

“Taking on volunteers has helped us to increase our Chaplaincy presence across the communities we serve and enables many local people who wish to dedicate their time and talents in caring for others.”

Pastoral visitors volunteer on wards for 2-hour sessions - either on a fortnightly or weekly basis. They visit patients and support their pastoral, spiritual and religious needs. Paul said:

“Patients are very welcoming and grateful to Pastoral Visitors for the time that they are able to spend with them. Sometimes it’s just a chat - about anything - or other times a particular matter that they might wish to talk through.”

Volunteers go through a robust training and support programme, to get them prepared for our wards and any difficult conversations they may encounter. Paul said:

“As a team we feel that good support of volunteers is vital. We achieve this through regular contact with them, timely supervision, training sessions and away days.”

Research has shown that connecting with people is an important way to tackle loneliness. In busy physical health wards, it is of great benefit to patients to be able to spend time with someone having an informal conversation about the things that matter most to them. Paul said:

Volunteers come from a variety of backgrounds and bring with them considerable life experience, gifts and talents.''

These diverse life experiences of volunteers mean they are able to connect with a wide range of patients to make their stay with us more enjoyable. We are truly grateful for the pastoral visitors that volunteer with us and incredibly proud of the impact they’ve made.

If you are interested in volunteering with NELFT, please complete a volunteer application form.


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