Sir Cliff Richard among celebrities backing NHS volunteers campaign

Sir Cliff Richard, Joanna Lumley and Spice Girl Geri Horner are among the celebrities backing Daily Mail Christmas campaign to recruit volunteers that could save the NHS

  • It encourages people to spare a few hours to give our hospitals a helping hand
  • Tom Jones praised Health Service and volunteers as a ‘world-beating example’
  • He lauded work by all sections of NHS, saying selfless volunteers were ‘crucial’ 

Celebrities and leading figures from the worlds of arts, sports and business have thrown their weight behind the Daily Mail’s NHS volunteer recruitment drive.

Sir Cliff Richard, Sir Tom Jones, Joanna Lumley, Chris Evans and Sir Clive Woodward are among the famous faces encouraging readers to spare just a few hours of their time to give our hospitals a helping hand.

Tennis star Johanna Konta, Spice Girl Geri Horner and music mogul Simon Cowell also joined our call for people to help patients and take pressure off frontline staff.

Starstruck new mums met pop legend Sir Cliff Richard when he paid a surprise visit to a Birmingham hospital

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Sir Tom praised the Health Service and its volunteers as a ‘world-beating example of the essential kindness and compassion of the British conscience’.

He lauded the work done by all sections of the NHS, saying selfless volunteers were a ‘crucial’ cog in the machine and had helped him fight tuberculosis at the age of 12.

Endorsing the Mail’s campaign with the charity Helpforce, Sir Tom said: ‘As a child with TB, they gave me and my family the best care available.

‘Providing personal support with nursing and assistance with home schooling. I am sure there would have been a different outcome for me if that level of care wasn’t there.

‘The NHS is about its people and the service they provide, no matter how small that service may seem.

Chris Evans and Gerri Horner have also thrown their weight behind the campaign

‘The voluntary force is crucial to the success of this network, and the many small acts of kindness they contribute add up to an immeasurable gift to all who have suffered the many complications of illness. Please, think about joining Helpforce this Christmas!’

Miss Lumley said the campaign was the perfect opportunity for ordinary people to ‘roll their sleeves up and help’, saying volunteers were ‘the backbone of the community’.

‘The combination of Helpforce and the Daily Mail will be a smash hit,’ she said.

‘Ordinary, non-skilled people like me, who just want the best for all those who are sick and suffering, and for all those who care for them, can roll up our sleeves and help. It is a thrilling and innovative idea.

‘Long ago I realised that volunteers are the backbone of the community, and when that community is the NHS, the chance to shoulder some of their burden will be greeted with open arms.

‘It will be a privilege to part of this enterprise, and it makes me proud to think of us all joining together to lend a helping hand right across the nation.’

Joanna Lumley delighted Chelsea and Westminster Hospital staff, local residents and patients by participating in the hospital Open Day on June 14th, 2014

Sir Cliff said the campaign represented the true spirit of Christmas and it offered people the chance to give back to others in need.

‘I have made many a visit so as to be with people who had need of medical help’, he said.

‘Some were family, some friends, and some were fans who needed to lift the spirits of a loved-one. I have never been anything but incredibly impressed and emotionally moved by the care and attention that patients receive.

‘I wholeheartedly commend this Christmas venture. It is completely what Christmas should be about – giving love and care to those who are in need.’

Music mogul Cowell said the ‘great’ campaign would offer vital support for ‘incredible’ NHS staff.

Canadian rock star Bryan Adams praised the NHS for helping him after a nasty accident in London, and said volunteers could help to ‘bring comfort’ to those in need.

He added: ‘When I came off my motorcycle and broke my hand in Brixton back in 2002, I was given a cast at the local hospital and couldn’t have had better treatment.

‘The NHS is similar to the social medicine system in Canada, where everyone is given the option to have free treatment. I wish it was the same everywhere.

‘The call for volunteers for the NHS by Helpforce and the Daily Mail is brilliant and will hopefully bring comfort and help to those in need when their health fails. Anything to help people in need by people generously giving their time gets my support.’

The Mail’s campaign is also being endorsed by singers Alfie Boe, Aled Jones and Russell Watson, as well as TV’s Kate Garraway and Davina McCall. 

Join our big-hearted heroes by volunteering to help in a hospital near you for as little as one day a month – or three hours a week – for at least six months. Read all you need to know here…

Why does the NHS need volunteers?

Volunteers can help provide better experiences for patients, and free up time for healthcare workers to focus on delivering the incredible work they’ve been trained to do. And while there are thousands of volunteers carrying out vital work in the NHS, there is so much more we can do. That’s where the Join the Hospital Helpforce campaign comes in – the aim is to harness the power of dedicated and caring volunteers to create a more compassionate care system for all of us.

What is Helpforce?

It’s a charity that works with the NHS, healthcare workers and the public to promote the benefits of volunteering – helping to expand the range and quality of volunteer roles, and the number of volunteers involved in our NHS.

Are volunteers replacing staff roles?

No. They provide extra help that wouldn’t be covered by a staff role. NHS Trusts need volunteers as they provide a valuable support role to busy staff and patients who are going through a difficult time. Volunteers can make the difference to someone’s day by providing simple but significant support. Many volunteers enjoy it so much they take up employment in the NHS, helping to fill the health service’s 100,000 job vacancies.

What is the minimum number of hours I have to commit to?

Helpforce is asking people to commit to three consecutive hours a week for six months, or one day a month for six months. NHS staff say that for volunteers to make a difference, they need to commit to at least this time as this gives them continuity and a reliable source of help. You can, of course, ask to do more hours and for a longer period of time.

Do I need particular skills?

No. NHS organisations are looking for volunteers who are willing to learn. While all your skills will be useful, you will be provided with training. If you have any specific skills, please note these on your pledge when you sign up.

Is there an age limit?

Helpforce hasn’t put a maximum age as there are many examples of older volunteers doing great work. The minimum age is 16. However, not all NHS organisations are able to take volunteers until the age of 18 due to their own policies. If you are aged between 16 and 18, Helpforce will do its best to place you with a local NHS organisation but opportunities are more limited. Youth groups #iwill and the Pears Foundation are together aiming to increase the number of volunteering opportunities for young people – visit for details.

I have mobility issues, can I apply?

Yes. The NHS can accommodate volunteers with mobility issues and/or long-term conditions.

Are all UK hospitals covered?

Not all NHS organisations are able to take volunteers. Helpforce will work with those that have volunteer schemes, and are recruiting.

Can I choose which hospital I work in?

In the first instance, Helpforce will try to match you with an NHS organisation near to where you live. If your local NHS organisation doesn’t have capacity, Helpforce will – with your permission – pass your details to organisations such as the Royal Voluntary Service, Marie Curie and the British Red Cross, as they bring volunteers to work across many parts of the NHS. Some trusts hold their own waiting lists and you could be added to those if you prefer.

Can I volunteer if I live in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland?

Yes – Helpforce is welcoming volunteers from across the UK.

Am I guaranteed a place?

Helpforce can’t guarantee that every person who pledges will get a place, but will endeavour to place as many people with their local NHS organisation as possible. The majority of the volunteer roles Helpforce expects to be filled through this campaign will take place in hospitals, but many volunteers will be placed in community healthcare settings to support NHS organisations.

How do I sign up?

Visit and fill in the pledge form. Once you’ve completed it, you should hear back immediately with a thank you email, then again in late January or early February once Helpforce have matched you with an NHS organisation. If you don’t hear by the end of February, please go to the Frequently Asked Questions section of the website.

What will the hospital want to know about me?

Once you have been matched to an NHS organisation, you will be asked to meet its volunteer co-ordinator. They will want to find out about you, your experience, interests and motivation to volunteer. You will be asked to fill in an application form.

If you both agree that you want to proceed, you will have simple health and criminal record checks – these are called an Occupational Health check and a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check.

An Occupational Health check helps to ensure that volunteers are safe and able to work in the healthcare environment – it is usually straightforward. A DBS check enables employers to access the criminal records of current and potential employees to confirm whether they are suitable to work with vulnerable adults and children. It is a legal requirement and can take some time to complete. You may also be required to provide a reference. Your data will be fully protected throughout.

What training will I get?

Training varies between NHS organisations, but all your training will help keep you safe, and give you the skills to make you feel confident when volunteering on a busy ward with staff, patients and their families. A training session would typically include some or all of the following elements: health and safety, fire training, equality and diversity, safeguarding, conflict resolution, information governance, infection control.

Are uniforms and expenses provided?

Volunteers usually wear T-shirts or uniforms provided by the NHS organisation. Helpforce recommends you discuss this with the volunteer co-ordinator when you have been placed. Each NHS organisation has its own expenses policy – again, this is something you should discuss with the volunteer co-ordinator.

How long will it take to process my request?

Helpforce is keen that you start volunteering as soon as possible, but the process may take several months. Once the charity has put your NHS organisation in touch with you it can take up to three months, and in some cases six months, before you start. This is mainly due to the time it takes to make the necessary checks, and complete the relevant training.

Is there a deadline?

You can choose to volunteer for the NHS at any time, but this campaign is being supported during December and will close at the start of January. If it isn’t a good time for you to volunteer but you may want to in the future, you can get in touch with your hospital or other NHS organisation at a later date. You can also look at volunteering opportunities at

I’m having trouble with the online form. How else can I make contact?

Helpforce is encouraging everyone to make contact through the online form. If you are having problems with the form, it may be helpful to seek assistance from a friend or relative.

Who can I contact if I have further questions?

Please go to the Frequently Asked Questions web page ( The ‘speech bubble’ icon will take you to one of Helpforce’s ambassadors.

Are there other ways I can help?

You can donate to Helpforce – the charity will use all money raised to help support hospitals in creating volunteering roles, and bringing more volunteers to their wards. There are two ways you can donate: via the donate button at, or by sending a cheque made out to Helpforce Community Trust to:


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