£6 million to support Big Society in health and social care

The Department of Health Volunteering Fund National Awards were announced today, the first day of Volunteering Week.  Through this scheme, the Department has committed to delivering £6m to support volunteering projects in health and social care.

The fund will be divided between thirteen organisations over three years.  Each charity was selected for excellence in one of the following criteria:

  • Patient-Led NHS;
  • Delivering Better Health Outcomes;
  • Improving Public Health; or
  • Improving Health and Social Care.

Giving patients choice over their own care, reducing health inequalities and approving health outcomes are important themes in Volunteering Fund National Awards and reflect the Government’s wider commitment to modernising the NHS.

Minister of State for Care Services Paul Burstow said,

“I am immensely grateful to the thousands of volunteers who already work in the NHS and social care.  The idea of a Big Society isn’t new, what is new is that this Government is making it easier for people to do more: giving people power to improve public services, putting communities in control and supporting people to help others.

“Thirteen very different charities have been selected to receive this funding, all united in the compassion of their volunteers and commitment to improving health and well-being.  Initiatives range from tackling health inequalities to preventing ill-health and improving health outcomes to spreading information and good health advice.”

The Government will invest over £40m in volunteering and social action over the next two years. New commitments were set out by the Cabinet Office in the Giving White Paper last week:

  • The Volunteering Match Fund will match private donations to voluntary groups pound-for-pound and will be worth around £10m per year.
  • The Volunteering Infrastructure programme, worth £42.5m over four years, this programme will provide brokerage and support services to volunteers.
  • The £10m Social Action Fund will support new incentives for people to give, such as ‘complementary currencies’ that offer people credit for volunteering.
  • Over the next two years, Youthnet’s national database of volunteering opportunities will get over £1m from the Cabinet Office, Department for Work and Pensions and Department of Health.

Jeremy Todd, Chief Executive, Family Lives said:

“We are delighted the Department of Health is to help fund our "Focused on Families" project, through its national DH Volunteering Fund.   "Focused on Families” is an innovative, community-led project that takes a preventative approach to improving mental health outcomes through voluntary Family Support Mentors.

“This new funding will help us to work with health and social care professionals to identify vulnerable families at risk of poor mental and physical health outcomes and train Family Support Mentors to help improve the mental and physical health outcomes of vulnerable families.

“Family Lives listens to and empowers families by helping them to identify the solutions that work for them.  Our volunteers are trained to support families through a range of challenging situations that can range from crying babies to bullying at school or relationship break ups.  No two calls are the same and there are often challenges on every shift but our volunteers have the reward of knowing that their skills have helped someone through a really difficult time.”


Funding announced today comes on top of around £470million which is being invested directly into support for charities, voluntary groups and social enterprises by the Cabinet Office. For further information please see: www.gov.uk/

Applicants to the Volunteering Fund National Awards were asked to address one of the following themes:

  • Theme 1: Patient-Led NHS - demonstrate a step change in the contribution of volunteering in the health and social care sector.
  • Theme 2: Delivering Better Health Outcomes - improve patient/service user experience and outcomes.
  • Theme 3: Improving Public Health - improve public health through action to reduce health inequalities and demonstrably reduce inequalities in health and social care through active volunteering initiatives in localities and communities.
  • Theme 4: Improving Health and Social Care - enable people to have greater choice over their care and support, leading to tangible improvements for individuals, and complements (rather than replaces or duplicates) existing statutory and community provision. 

For information on volunteering for Family Lives in your area; Please contact Family Lives on 020 7553 3080 or visit www.familylives.org.uk/support-us/volunteer/