Become a Butterfly Volunteer

Since the Anne Robson Trust launched at the beginning of 2018 we have had hundreds of enquiries about the Butterfly Volunteer scheme, so we decided to provide more information about what the role involves, along with some other frequently asked questions.

Butterfly Volunteers give their time

Time to engage with patients who have no visitors
Time to read, listen to music, or simply sit quietly
Time to support family or friends who are struggling
Time to take over when family or friends need a break
Time to simply sit and listen
Time to liaise with nursing staff on behalf of the patient
Time to ensure that nursing staff know that their patients are not alone

Volunteers Stories

The Butterfly Volunteer role is a simple one. To provide companionship and company to patients in acute hospitals who have been recognised as being in the last days and hours of their life, with particular emphasis on patients who have no other visitors.

The Butterfly Volunteer Coordinator will provide pastoral and emotional support to the volunteers on their team. This role is a challenging one, and at ART we make sure you are properly supported, so you feel empowered and confident to support patients and their families.

Your Coordinator will arrange to chat to you at least once a month, and in between those times you need to make sure you feedback any worries or concerns you have so that they can be addressed immediately. There will be monthly or bi-monthly team meetings where you can meet your fellow Butterfly Volunteers, and share experiences. There may also be Coffee mornings arranged by a member of the team, so that volunteers can meet up and support each other.

At the beginning of the shift the Butterfly Volunteer Coordinator will provide you with a list of patients who have been identified as requiring support from our team. You may be on the rota with another member of the Butterfly Volunteer team, in which case you can liaise with each other and decide who will visit each patient. There is a handover system so you can let the team members visiting after you know any specific information that will help them provide support where its needed most.

We ask that volunteers cover a minimum of two shifts per month, and a maximum of two shifts per week – each shift will be between one and four hours long. Shifts usually run on weekdays from 10am – 1pm, 2pm – 5pm, and 5pm – 8pm. Weekend shifts may also be available, depending on how long the project has been running.

The recruitment process is relatively simple. You will be asked to complete an application form, and the likelihood is you will be invited for an informal interview. Once you have met with the Coordinator of your local team of Butterfly Volunteers, plus a member of the ART team and you, and they, are happy that you would suit the role, you will be invited to a Training Day, along with other prospective Butterfly Volunteers.

The training day is designed to be interactive and informative, with the aim that you will come away feeling more confident and knowledgeable, and equipped to visit patients in the last days and hours of their life, and provide support to them and their families. Training workshops and updates are run throughout the year, during 2 hour monthly or bi-monthly meetings.

An Enhanced DBS certificate will be required – this is free for volunteers, and will be arranged by the Voluntary Services Manager at the hospitals you are volunteering in.

Most of us have some experience of visiting a hospital ward to see a relation or friend, or supporting a member of the family whilst they were unwell. Many of the people who get in touch with us have personal experience of loved ones dying in hospitals – some have had good experiences, whilst others have been very poor. Everyone who comes forward with an interest in this role has a passion to help others, to ensure that they don’t die alone and frightened.

The role is not an easy one. You will sit with people who seem unconscious, holding their hand or stroking their hair. You will comfort their relatives as they face the imminent death of their loved one. You will make copious cups of tea – and advocate for them by arranging free parking, or meal vouchers. Even though the role can be challenging at times our volunteers find what they are doing hugely rewarding.

We are always looking out for people who are keen to help us with fundraising. Go to our Donate page to learn more about how you can help.

Would you like to organise a monthly coffee morning with a cake sale, or get friends together to do a sponsored run or walk? Maybe you could run a promotional table in or near your local hospital, or in a supermarket to promote the scheme and raise much needed funds.

Contact us at, for more ideas and information.

Are you interested in learning more about becoming a Butterfly Volunteer?

Please read our Butterfly Volunteer FAQ’s above or fill in your details below and we will put you in touch with your nearest team.