Responsible Business in Action: Social Action in Partnership

DAC Beachcroft is partnering with local schools and one of their key clients, the NHS, on Step up to Serve and the #iWill Campaign to make youth volunteering happen in NHS hospitals.

The aim of the programme is to enhance the employability and skills of young people from disadvantaged backgrounds, provide skills development opportunities for our employees whilst also facilitating a way for them to ‘give something back’ to society, and help the NHS to provide positive patient and visitor experiences whilst also attracting potential future recruits to help address its well-known recruitment difficulties.
Launched in October 2018, the programme is running in two cities, London and Bristol, with plans to expand further. Bristol Metropolitan Academy work with North Bristol NHS Trust and Sir John Cass & Redcoat Foundation Secondary (Tower Hamlets) are partnered with The Royal London Hospital, Whitechapel.
The special role of the DAC Beachcroft volunteers at the hospitals is to provide guidance and support to the school students, broadly on a two-to-one ratio of students to adults, which would otherwise be impossible for the small volunteer management teams at the hospitals.
The two NHS hospitals we work with already had volunteering programmes, but were not running youth volunteering with local schools. We introduced them to Step up to Serve and our Head of Responsible Business and local DAC Beachcroft volunteer coordinators worked closely with them to design youth volunteering in the hospitals. This entailed overcoming obstacles such as agreeing to accept school students (for the first time in some cases), tricky diary planning to ensure sufficient DAC Beachcroft volunteers attended to help supervise and support the school students at all times, and organising complex safeguarding and training procedures. The partnerships launched in time to run for between two to four months, before stopping to allow students’ to prepare for their GCSE exams, and will pick up again in September.
Once at the hospital, we have found that the students have developed improved confidence and communication skills. Through helping hospital visitors and patients navigate busy corridors to find clinics, or chatting to elderly patients on wards, the young people have had to communicate clearly and think of the right things to say. They have benefited from spending time with the DAC Beachcroft volunteers, as adults outside the sphere of school and home. This has improved their ability to relate to other adults, and broadened their horizons as they start to think about careers and the world of work.
DAC Beachcroft are hoping to work with the partner schools to create career pathways for the students, either in the legal profession or the NHS itself. They are now building connections with the Apprenticeship scheme and school outreach programme ‘Healthcare Horizons’ at The Royal London Hospital.