Feeding Buddies are volunteers who encourage vulnerable and elderly patients to eat at mealtimes – vital for wellbeing and recovery.

Many patients often need help at mealtimes, either because they’re poorly or just don’t feel like eating. Buddies encourage identified patients to take a few mouthfuls and also make mealtimes more enjoyable by chatting and spending time with them. The volunteers can help in cutting up patients’ food, but are not expected to help those who have swallowing difficulties.

We have around 80 Buddies working on a variety of wards, but need more. New Buddies are only placed on wards after they’ve been given full training and support, including three ‘shadow sessions’ with our mentor Buddies who have been doing the job a long time.

Our co-ordinator, clinical development nurse Claire Buckell, places new recruits on a ward-by-ward basis. Prospective Buddies first have to successfully complete police checks, immunisations and an interview before they undergo their induction and ward training. For more information read our guide to working on the wards.

Read more about the role of the Feeding Buddy or read our feeding Buddy leaflet.

If you would like to become a Feeding Buddy, please download an application form and return it to feedingbuddies@southend.nhs.uk

  • For more information please email feedingbuddies@southend.nhs.uk
  • Telephone 01702 435555 ext 6135 for voluntary services or email jane.oconnell@southend.nhs.uk
  • Telephone 01702 435555 ext 7857 for Feeding Buddy co-ordinators