A SPOTLIGHT has been shone on Swindon in a bid to recruit hundreds of volunteers looking to give something back to the community.

The Royal Voluntary Service is on a drive to recruit volunteers in the NHS through its network of cafes, shops and social care providers.

Richard Hooper, from Swindon, quit his 9-5 job at a pharmaceutical company and, since starting volunteering one day a week while working part-time, says he hasn’t looked back.

He has been supporting David Smith, a recovering stroke patient, with his daily routine and helping him to get out and socialise at lunch clubs.

He told the Adver: “I do get a sense of satisfaction where you feel like you’ve made a difference. It feels good to try and help out and to get to know these people.

“Some people might just need a bit of company, or will need help where they didn’t need it before.

“You can get quite tied up with everyday life and you don’t always get a chance to take a bit of break and do something that you would really like to do.

“There are probably lots of people out there who would like to help out a charity on a voluntary basis.”

Rebecca Kennelly, the director of volunteering at the RVS, explained the benefits it can have on both sides and how it can complement public services.

“We recognise that society needs more help but also the personal benefits you get through volunteering are absolutely significant,” she said.

“Ultimately we want more people benefitting but also we want society as a whole benefitting as well.

“Our experience of the volunteers we ask is they want to support the NHS and we are very much championing that, so the NHS has more time to care, freeing up clinical time, whilst our volunteers are there caring for patients.

“They can absolutely add value that is so significant in the NHS environment. When you go on the ward with a volunteer you see the conversation and joy that they bring to somebody’s day when they’re having a long period in hospital; just the normality of buying something from a trolley or having a conversation.

"It’s so beneficial and that human contact can’t be underestimated.

“We forget about the human side of life. When we’re poorly and our relatives might be 500 miles away, that’s often the time when we feel very vulnerable and isolated.”

The charity conducted research with 1,000 volunteers and found that volunteering once a week gave them a euphoric 'runner’s high'.

Among first-timers, many experienced improved wellbeing after volunteering, with 34 per cent of this group feeling less stressed. There were similar results when looking at positive effects on physical health, 42 per cent and happiness, 65 per cent.

Almost four in ten - 37 per cent - said volunteering had made them less lonely.