Know who your friends are
Leagues of Friends do more than run hospital coffee shops
- By: Sally Carter
You’re bound to have come across them, and, if you haven’t already, you probably will. They’re the unpaid volunteers who run hospital coffee shops, bring round books, provide information, and chat to patients. Leagues of Friends are groups of volunteers who work in hospitals for patients and staff. They predate the NHS and have moved with the times.
A League of Friends is a volunteering organisation attached to a hospital (although some also work with primary care surgeries), and there are 1500 of them across the United Kingdom, linked via a national association called Attend. The members of the friends’ organisations volunteer, for example, in hospitals where they often run snack shops and book borrowing services as well as fundraising activities. In 2012 they raised £43m (€50m; $68m) for their hospitals. Each of the 30 000 volunteers gives an average of 3 to 6 hours of time each week.