Frequently asked questions

Who can apply
Experience needed
Under 18 looking for work experience
Studying medicine, shadowing doctors
Travel expenses
Benefit entitlement
Health clearance
DBS checks
Previous convictions
Process timetable
Recently arrived in the UK
Receiving references

Who can apply to be a Homerton Helper?

Anyone who is aged 18 and over, willing to give their time to improve patients’ hospital stay. You need to be able to commit a minimum of three hours a week for at least six months.

What experience do I need?

You don’t need previous experience of volunteering or working in a hospital. We’re looking for individuals who are reliable, friendly and approachable, and committed to making a difference. Each volunteering opportunity has a role description with more information on the personal qualities you need to be a Homerton Helper.

I am under 18 and looking for work experience. Can you help?

Homerton University Hospital receives many requests for work experience and we must balance supporting these requests with providing quality patient care. In addition, we host many students in training for clinical positions. Regrettably, therefore, the work experience programme for schools is closed to new applicants.

I am interested in studying medicine. Can I shadow one of your doctors?

We set up a small number of medical placements for A level students who go to school in the Borough of Hackney and who are interested in becoming a doctor. Please email

Will you pay my travel expenses?

Yes, up to a maximum of £4.40 each day. To be reimbursed, you will need to provide a print out from your Oyster account showing the journeys you are claiming for.

Will I be offered any training?

Yes. All volunteers must attend an introductory training session before they start their placement.

This will tell you more about our Homerton Helpers programme and what you need to know about how the hospital works. When you start, you will also receive a local induction from the ward or department you are working in.

Will volunteering affect my benefit entitlement?

No. If you receive Jobseeker’s Allowance, you can volunteer for as many hours as you want as long as you’re free to go to an interview when requested. It’s ok to be paid expenses but you will need to keep hold of your receipts so you can tell the Jobcentre what you get.

If you’re on Jobseeker’s Allowance and want to volunteer, contact Jobcentre Plus who will ask you to fill in a simple form.

Will I need health clearance?

Yes. When you’re offered a volunteer placement you will be given a short health questionnaire to complete and asked to make an appointment with our Employee Health Management Service. They will discuss with you any health conditions that may impact on your time volunteering with us, and any adjustments we need to make as a result. As we treat patients with infectious diseases such as TB, they will also ask what vaccinations you have had in the past. You may need to have an additional jab to ensure you are fully immunised.

Why do I need a DBS (previously known as CRB) check?

We are required by law to seek clearance from the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) for all staff and volunteers who work unsupervised with vulnerable adults. This is to provide reassurance to patients, their families and carers about the staff and volunteers who will help them during their hospital stay. For all volunteer roles, you will be asked to complete a DBS form and a Trust Declaration form which asks you to let us know if you have any previous convictions. This information will be treated in the strictest confidence. We will need to wait for CRB clearance before you start volunteering.

Will you turn down my application if I have a previous conviction?

Not necessarily. We are only concerned about previous convictions  or other information that might affect your suitability for the volunteer role. Decisions will be made on a case by case basis after discussions with you. The Volunteer Office can answer any concerns you may have.

How soon does the paperwork have to be completed after interview?

If successful you will be sent a confirmation email containing the DBS link and the health assessment form. If this hasn't been completed within two weeks after your interview your application will be removed from the Homerton Helpers programme.

I have only recently arrived in the UK. Can I still volunteer?

To apply for CRB clearance you need to provide a range of identity documents. This can sometimes be difficult for people who have only recently arrived in the UK. Visit to check if you have the identity documents required.

Will you provide a reference if I volunteer?

We will provide standard references for all volunteers who have given their time for six months or more.