PATIENTS will receive extra support during and particularly following treatment at the Great Western Hospital thanks to a £100,000 boost to recruit no fewer than 300 new volunteers.

Staff were celebrating yesterday after being awarded the sum by national social innovation charity Nesta to increase volunteer numbers from 600 to 900.

The grant will also allow the hospital to link up with charities and volunteer groups such as the Red Cross or Royal Voluntary Service to pilot an expanded Home from Hospital service.

This service will support patients to return home as soon as they are medically fit and foster greater independence once they have made the transition. This means volunteers will make the person’s home ready for their return and check they have a supply of basics like milk and bread. They will also make regular visits and phone calls over a number of weeks to check how the patient is getting on.

Carol Orrow, voluntary services manager at the Great Western Hospital, said: “I am very excited about the award of the Nesta grant as it enables us to increase the numbers of volunteers and introduce a wider Home from Hospital service, which will have a significant impact on the quality of care and support experienced by our patients.

“Sixty-five trusts applied for this money and we were one of six chosen so we’ve done well.

“Volunteering provides much-needed support and friendship to patients and we value our volunteers for the positive difference they make to the care of our patients.”

The grant awarded through the Helping in Hospitals programme will allow the trust to recruit a volunteer mentor who will support volunteers in their first few weeks of placement and ensure they feel settled and confident.

This will enable them to befriend patients and initiate conversations, games or activities, as well as supporting the ward with other tasks such as tea rounds.

She added: “The volunteer mentor will give volunteers confidence on the wards. Volunteers get training but once they are on the ward they can flounder a bit if it’s really busy. We get a lot of students and they don’t necessarily have the people skills or confidence at the start. The mentor will work alongside them for their first few shifts.”

The additional 300 volunteers will be stationed in wards at GWH, as well as the discharge lounge, and in community hospitals in Trowbridge, Marlborough and Chippenham, among other locations.

The hospital hopes to start recruiting new volunteers as early as December.