Our Play Volunteers facilitate play activities and create a fun environment for children in hospitals. You will see our Play Volunteers in their red-t-shirts in the playrooms, on the wards or in the Emergency & Outpatients departments.

As part of our Volunteer Play Service, we provide play items to children. In following infection-control guidelines, our play and colouring resources are age-appropriate individual packs that are given to each child while in hospital. These packs can be given to children in isolation, giving every child the opportunity to play in hospital.


As a Play Volunteer, your role is to create a play environment in hospital and engage with children and young people through arts and crafts, story time, board games and more. Volunteers are asked to give 2 hours once a week for at least 1 year, on a regular shift. Opportunities on both weekdays and weekends.  

You will:

  • Support play with children of a variety of ages and abilities in both playroom and bedside settings.
  • Offer parents/carers a chance to take a break.
  • Hand out play and colouring materials.
  • Follow all infection control and child protection policies and procedures.
  • Work as a part of a pair or a team of volunteers, and will have the guidance of the play specialists or nursing staff of the hospital whenever possible.

Must be 18 years or older. No experience required. Full training will be provided.


The importance of play in the recovery of a hospitalised child is universally recognised. All children need to play and have the right to do so: the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, which Ireland has ratified, recognises play as one of the fundamental human rights of children.

Play for children in hospital is vital and it has the potential to provide a whole range of benefits, which are especially important given that the children are not only coping with an illness but adjusting to being away from home and their normal routines. It’s a simple concept with enormous benefits as children admitted to hospital are particularly vulnerable, both physically and emotionally.

Children in Hospital Ireland has been helping to fill this role since 1970 and today, we have over 300 CIH Volunteers who bring fun and enjoyment to children in hospitals around Ireland.

  • Relieve stress. Play is fun and can trigger the release of endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good chemicals. Endorphins promote an overall sense of well-being and can even temporarily relieve pain.

  • Improve brain function. Playing chess, completing puzzles, or pursuing other fun activities that challenge the brain can help prevent memory problems and improve brain function. The social interaction of playing with family and friends can also help ward off stress and depression.

  • Stimulate the mind and boost creativity. Young children often learn best when they are playing. Play can also stimulate the imagination, helping a child cope with difficult situations.
  • Boost energy and vitality and even improve resistance to disease.


“It’s particularly hard for those who are far from home and the service we offer makes such a difference to them. We wear red t-shirts or tabards so we are easy to spot.”

Volunteer, Crumlin

“We stop and have a chat, read them a story, tell them a joke. When a child is sick in hospital, providing entertainment is the last thing on a parent’s mind so that’s what we try and do. They’re unwell and they’re finding it all very scary. The play calms them and hopefully we offer a supportive and caring presence.”

Volunteer, Waterford

“I always say that the hospital is full of smiles and cries. There are days I go in and have so much fun. There are other days you go home with tears in my eyes. I don’t bring it all the way home. It’s definitely worth it.”

Volunteer, Crumlin