Date posted 25 Jan 2022

Leading health and wellbeing charity, Royal Voluntary Service, is urgently calling for more volunteers in South London to support in a fundamental role.

Volunteers are needed to support the charity in retail roles, as it partners with charitable social enterprise, Better, to take on operation of the newly opened café in Croydon’s New Addington Leisure Centre and the Crystal Palace National Sports Centre café, which is set to open on 17th January.

Royal Voluntary Service cafés are a place for visitors to get high quality food and barista-style coffee. Café volunteers are fundamental to the charity, as café profits support the invaluable work Royal Voluntary Service does in the NHS and the local community. The charity’s work includes running dementia support groups, helping vulnerable people recover after a hospital stay and a number of other services aimed at improving health and wellbeing across Great Britain.

Royal Voluntary Service is also one of the largest retailers in the NHS, with its network of cafés and shops providing a valued haven in hospitals to patients, NHS staff and visitors. However, it’s not just the people on the receiving end of the charity’s support that benefit from volunteering.

As a result of donating their time, Royal Voluntary Service volunteers report better physical health; mental health and wellbeing, with 81% of pandemic volunteers reporting an improvement in this*; new skills and work experience; and a sense of connection to others in their community. In a recent report more than a third (38%) of Royal Voluntary Service volunteers said that volunteering has also improved their confidence**.

More volunteers are needed to help operate the cafés, which may involve preparing and selling food and drinks to visitors and staff, or working behind the scenes. Those looking to apply for the roles can do so here.

Chris Gray, Head of Retail Operations at Royal Voluntary Service said:We are delighted to be setting up our first leisure centre cafés, which will enable us to continue providing vital support to those who need it most.

“We can’t do this without the selfless support of volunteers, so if you are considering volunteering with us, then please don’t hesitate. The shifts can be flexible, so however much time you are able to give, it will be invaluable to the charity.”  

Kristina Johansson, Catering Manager for Better leisure centres  said: “As a social enterprise we share many common values with Royal Voluntary Service and are proud to be working with the charity as they launch their cafés within our Croydon and Crystal Palace facilities. The staff and volunteers are bringing a real warmth to the cafés. These fantastic volunteering opportunities are ideal for anyone looking to make new friends and develop their skills and experience. We look forward to seeing the cafés’ teams growing and welcoming new volunteers.”

Royal Voluntary Service is one of Britain’s largest volunteering charities with volunteers supporting the NHS and thousands of vulnerable people in the community. The charity has delivered the NHS Volunteer Responders programme for NHS England enabled by the GoodSAM app with volunteers responding to over 2 million requests for help and supporting with over 230,000 shifts at vaccination sites. The charity has also worked in local communities through the crisis running home libraries, companionship support, home from hospital services and patient transport. Its Virtual Village Hall provides live classes and tutorials on Facebook to promote well-being and keep people active and occupied through the pandemic.


For further information, please contact:

Melissa Hassan at Royal Voluntary Service via email on 07971 031455 or via emai here.


Notes to editors

*Research conducted by Royal Voluntary Service November 2020 with 756 active volunteers from England, Scotland, Wales.

**Research was conducted by PCP between 11-16 February 2021 with 1,000 GB adults aged 16-65 who are current or recent volunteers, and a qualitative survey of Royal Voluntary Service volunteers in the same age range.


About Royal Voluntary Service  

  • Royal Voluntary Service is one of the largest volunteering organisations in Great Britain, providing vital, responsive services which support public health, social care and wellbeing. Its staff and thousands of volunteers support people in need, with the aim of building resilience in local communities. 
  • Originally set up as the Women’s Voluntary Service (subsequently the WRVS) in 1938, the charity began its life helping civilians during the Second World War.
  • The charity has supported the NHS since its inception. Today’s Royal Voluntary Service NHS volunteers provide patient companionship and transport, on-ward exercise sessions, and settlement support for vulnerable patients following a stay in hospital.  
  • In local communities, Royal Voluntary Service (volunteers) run(s) physical activity classes, dining clubs and social groups which bring people together, promoting better health, social interaction and connection.     
  • In March 2020, at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown, NHS England commissioned Royal Voluntary Service to recruit NHS Volunteer Responders to shield the NHS and provide practical help to the 2.5 million most at-risk people who were shielding at home. The programme was extended to support the vaccination drive. To date, NHS Volunteer Responders have delivered over 2 million tasks.
  • The charity is also one of the UK’s largest hospital retailers with 200 volunteer-run shops, cafes and trolley services providing refreshments and company to patients, hospital staff and visitors.
  • For more information about Royal Voluntary Service, please click here.