A blog highlighting the Helpforce innovative approach linked to the NHS Plan on building a social movement at pace.

Carol Read RN/MSc

December 2018 saw a new social movement HelpForce set up to work with hospitals and charities to develop the future of volunteers in the NHS and strive to recruit additional volunteers.  The approach used was different as it linked straight into the NHS Long Term plan and a campaign run with the Daily Mail  to find over 25,000 additional volunteers who could support the NHS.  As we have seen in the learning resources, networks and social movements can opperate in similar ways, both have to provide a strong purpose to engage individuals to connect.  Collins J., and Porras J. (1997) identified that a good purpose statement should be "broad, fundamental, inspirational, and enduring”, although this could change over time.  Advice from Andrew Constable suggests we may need to revisit the purpose of our network or social movement as this ensures that the purpose is still relevent and enables new members to add their voice to the network.

The idea of volunteers in hospitals is not new as you can see through David Buck's 2016 blog.  What is new is that HelpForce have challenged the myths such as there are no more volunteers available or that they will replace trained staff roles Ross et al. 2018 and put together a message that is relational and makes you want to personally give back to the NHS as a volunteer.

The response to the HelpForce campaign has been incredible with the target of over 25,000 volunteers met by January 2019.  It is worth reviewing the website of HelpForce to see the way they state their purpose through a mix of media and storytelling. So how did they get their message to resonate with the public and what learning does this provide for our networks in health and social care?

  1. Understand your message, make it simple and have an inspirational goal.  
  2. Try an innovative way to deliver that message to your network and beyond.
  3. Share why your network is the way to make change happen.
  4. Get your members to tell their story.  If you can use a range of media such as video or podcasts, try it!
  5. Approach the media to help you share the story with your communication team.
  6. Review the network purpose and make sure it is aligned with the issue you want to solve.
  7. People join a network because they want to make a difference - Make sure they can, through a clear sense of purpose and actions.
  8. Run a diagnostic test on your network.

If you want to run a diagnostic check on your network there is a simple way to do this on our website.  Going through the tools provided with your membership will Identify if you are still on track for success. Finally, It is worth reviewing the video from the Point of Care website where CEO Jocelyn Cornwell shares her advice on how to run a successfull network.