Ethan Assor (L), Julien André Draha (R)More young volunteers will be helping patients and visitors at the Royal Free London thanks to funding from the Department of Health (DoH) and the innovation charity, Nesta.

Around 450 Royal Free Charity volunteers work to improve patient experience throughout the trust’s three hospitals, including a small group of youth volunteers aged between 16 and 18.

These young people donate their time to act as hospital guides for patients and visitors, support the trust’s elderly care wards during meal times and generally work to help make our hospitals a more welcoming environment.

Now the Royal Free Charity, which manages all the trust’s volunteers, has received part of a £200,000 “Young People Helping in Hospitals” fund, provided by the DoH and distributed by Nesta to help it grow its youth volunteering arm.

The newly expanded team will focus on dementia support, with volunteers being trained in dementia awareness and how to increase patient satisfaction, lessen anxiety and reduce late-attendance at appointments.

Ethan Assor, 17, started volunteering in July and is considering applying to study medicine at university.

He said: “I wanted to have an insight into how the hospital works and generally try to help people.

“It’s been very interesting, I’ve mainly been helping people around wards and taking people around the hospital. I also did a dementia awareness training session which helped me to understand how best to help and speak to people with dementia.”

Desirée Benson, the Royal Free Charity’s young volunteers support worker, said: “This funding allows us to facilitate wonderful opportunities for community cohesion. We are able to support young people in key roles that benefit the hospital and its patients.

“The volunteers welcome and guide patients and visitors the moment they enter the hospital until they reach their destination. In helping with mealtimes on elderly care wards they help to create a more social environment in which patients are  encouraged to eat and find pleasure in their food.”

Chris Burghes, chief executive of the Royal Free Charity, said: “We are really pleased to have been awarded funding for this service. Young people have so much to offer and can help us improve the experience of patients within the trust. We are the only charity in the UK to have been awarded the funding and developing this service will not only help the trust, but also young people in the community.”

Notes to editors

Media contacts: or call 020 7317 7740

Image: Young volunteers Ethan Assor and Julien André Draha (L-R)

About the Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust

The Royal Free began as a pioneering organisation and continues to play a leading role in the care of patients. Our mission is to provide world class expertise and local care. In the 21st century, the Royal Free London continues to lead improvements in healthcare.

The Royal Free London attracts patients from across the country and beyond to its specialist services in liver, kidney and bone marrow transplantation, haemophilia, renal, HIV, infectious diseases, plastic surgery, immunology, vascular surgery, cardiology, amyloidosis and scleroderma and we are a member of the academic health science partnership UCLPartners.

In July 2014 Barnet Hospital and Chase Farm Hospital became part of the Royal Free London. Read: A bigger trust, a better future.

About the Royal Free Charity

In July 2014 Barnet Hospital and Chase Farm Hospital became part of the Royal Free London. Since then the Royal Free Charity has been working hard on expanding the service. Barnet Hospital Charity and Chase Farm Hospital Charity are now up and running. All funds raised by each charity arm will be used to benefit patients at that specific hospital.

We provide the little touches and big differences, including volunteer meet and greeters to help people find their way around, slippers for elderly patients and care packs for patients who may have arrived with nothing with them.

We also support the big projects that make a difference, from specialist medical equipment to art work that brightens up hospital corridors.