About HBB Volunteers
At Princess Margaret, we have a team of specially trained volunteers who work directly with cancer patients and their supporters. These people are called Healing Beyond the Body (HBB) Volunteers.
What HBB Volunteers Do
The HBB program aims to reduce the negative impact of cancer on the lives of patients and their supporters. The program makes sure that the mental, emotional, social, interpersonal and practical aspects of living with cancer are addressed.
As an HBB volunteer, your role is to invite patients and their supporters to talk about the challenges they experience and:
Give emotional support. Living with cancer can be extremely stressful. You can help by listening to patients and their supporters express their reactions, questions and concerns. You can offer encouragement by reflecting back their own strengths and resources. You can be a strong advocate to patients and their supporters. You let them know that they are supported, understood and not alone.
Offer information. You can help ease the stress patients and their supporters often feel by providing general information related to treatment and side effects, clinic procedures and the cancer care system. Providing tips on how to deal with treatment-related tasks and sharing coping and stress-management strategies can help people feel more in control of their treatment.
Show how to find information. Learning about cancer and its treatment can help empower people who have the disease. You can help patients and supporters speak to a librarian about an information search, gain skills in finding information or access services in the hospital and the community. You can also help people prepare for an appointment and figure out the questions they want to ask.
HBB Volunteer Requirements and Training
Requirements for Becoming an HBB Volunteer
HBB volunteers are caring and non-judgmental. They have strong interpersonal skills. If this describes you, then we’d love to have you apply to join our team. You also need to be:
- At least 21 years old
- Energetic, responsible, eager to learn and reliable
- Able to speak English well (speaking a second language is an asset)
- Available for at least one 3-hour shift on the same day each week
- Able to commit to the HBB program for
at least 1 full year
Please note: All HBB shifts take place during business hours, Monday–Friday, 9:00 AM–4:00 PM.
As an HBB volunteer, you will have lots of contact with patients and their families, friends and caregivers. This contact requires training beyond what other hospital volunteers receive. The training will help you effectively support the people you work with.
You will undergo formal training before starting your HBB volunteer placement. Formal HBB training is in 4 parts:
- A Princess Margaret volunteer orientation session (approximately four hours)
- HBB training (one full day) - see below for more details
- Placement training and orientation in the clinic or area you have chosen
- Attendance at three education sessions annually, covering a variety of different volunteering and cancer-related topics
The HBB training includes:
- Understanding the role of the HBB volunteer
- Active listening and communication skills training
- Learning about Princess Margaret Cancer Centre and cancer basics
- Education on the programs and resources within and outside the hospital
When you become an HBB volunteer you will be oriented to your clinic placement by HBB staff and other volunteers. There is also a mentoring program that pairs new HBB volunteers with more experienced volunteers, allowing you to learn by observation.
HBB staff is available to support you as needed. You will also attend regular debriefing meetings to talk about things that occur during your volunteer shifts.
How to Become an HBB Volunteer
In order to become an HBB Volunteer, you will:
- Complete an on-line information session.
- Complete an on-line application form that includes a résumé and cover letter (please specify why you want to volunteer with HBB).
- Submit 2
character reference forms.
- Be interviewed by a recruiter.
- Approved candidates will obtain health records, show proof of immunizations, and complete a tuberculosis test with their family physician.
- Attend aforementioned trainings.
For more information about applying and to start the application process please visit our
UHN How to Become a Volunteer »
Hours & Contact
Hours: Monday–Friday, 8:30 AM–4:30 PM
Contact: 416 946 4501 ext. 3311 or email