Published on: 19 October 2023

The Back to Health Pathway Programme introduced by George Eliot Hospital to support patients with their care journey, has scooped the title Volunteering Collaboration of the Year in the Helpforce Champions Awards 2023, giving national recognition to their fantastic contribution to volunteering in the health and care sector.

The awards celebrate the invaluable contributions made by volunteers across the UK and the impact they make on the health and wellbeing of patients, and their carers and health and care staff.

The Back to Health Team of trained volunteers call patients who are on our waiting lists and patients who have recently been discharged to check on their wellbeing and signpost them to other services if needed.

The team was highly praised by the judges for its impact on patients during three stages of their care. Those who are waiting for diagnosis or treatment - “waiting well”, patients in hospital - “getting well”, and returning home – “recovering well”. The programme adds a fourth element by helping to encourage greater volunteering to build stronger, healthier communities - “living well”.

Its success has been remarkable with more than 38,000 patients being supported by more than 7,000 hours of volunteering time

Sir Tom Hughes-Hallett, Helpforce Chairperson and founder, said:

“Many congratulations to the Back to Health Programme on winning this award. They have  demonstrated a great commitment and real passion for patient care and supporting staff.

“Volunteering across health and care is a proven yet massively underused asset. We know that people want to support their community and we need to urgently unleash this potential. The Helpforce Champions Awards shine an inspiring light on brilliant examples of this valuable resource, like the Back to Health Team at George Eliot Hospital.

“Our thanks go to everyone who has participated in the 2023 Helpforce Champion Awards to share the stories of their inspiring volunteers and volunteering teams. And our thanks to our many wonderful partners across health and care, who are working to ensure that volunteers can play a full role in the care and support of others in their communities.””

George Eliot Hospital’s Head of Patient Experience and Volunteering, Becky Millward said: “We could not have achieved this without our wonderful volunteers and our thanks go out to them. Working with them has made a real difference to our patients, staff and services and we are delighted to be recognised for the project.”

Winners were announced at the ceremony at the Royal Air Force Club on 13th October. A full list of winners and runners up can be found here.

The categories being celebrated at the awards were:

  • Celebrating Equality, Diversity & Inclusion in Volunteering (ED&I Award)
  • Impact Project of the Year
  • Volunteer of the Year
  • Outstanding Staff Champion of the Year
  • Volunteer Lead of the Year
  • Volunteering Collaboration of the Year (Partnership)
  • Best programme supporting volunteers into careers