Join the hospital volunteer army to help a patient in every Norfolk village

Voluntary services manager Sally Knights, chief executive Anna Dugdale and chairman John Fry at the

Voluntary services manager Sally Knights, chief executive Anna Dugdale and chairman John Fry at the N&N volunteer Christmas party, with long serving volunteer Rita Kofkin. Photo: Bill Smith

The region's biggest hospital is recruiting an army of volunteers for every Norfolk town and village to help welcome patients home.

The Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (N&N) is seeking the volunteers to support elderly patients when they leave hospital and settle back in their homes.

Volunteers would help the discharged patient by either driving them home or picking up basic supplies from the local shop or turning on their heating.

The hospital, which is yet to trial the scheme, believes that by having someone in the community to pick up bread and milk and help the patient settle in, the patient will be more confident about returning home.

Sally Knights, N&N voluntary services manager, said: 'Many of our patients do not have family members living locally and need extra help to regain their confidence after leaving hospital.'

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Ms Knights, who has increased the number of N&N volunteers from 76 to 675 in 10 years, added: 'We have lots of people wanting to volunteer at the hospital and I was trying to think of ways they could help patients after hospital.

'People are concerned about going home unsupported and they ask to stay because they are nervous about going home.'

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Some of the hospital's 675 volunteers have already stepped forward for the Settle In project and Ms Knights hopes to eventually have a volunteer in every town and village in the county.

There are more than 600 villages in Norfolk and some already have community volunteer schemes, but care minister and North Norfolk MP Norman Lamb encouraged people to step forward so the project could be successful across the county.

'There is so much that communities and neighbours can do and it is a brilliant initiative so I thoroughly support it,' he said.

Michael Emeney, discharge progress lead co-ordinator, who helped develop the project, added: 'This service will benefit patients who are returning home after a couple of days and need someone who can carry out simple tasks such as making a cup of tea and checking that the central heating is working.'

All volunteers will be given training and security checked.

The hospital also has other volunteer roles available, including being a dementia support companion for older patients.

For more information, contact the Volunteers Office at or telephone 01603 286060.

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