Coronavirus UK: NHS volunteers explain why they are doing their bit to help

25 March 2020, 10:01

The NHS needs the public's help to fight the coronavirus crisis
The NHS needs the public's help to fight the coronavirus crisis. Picture: PA
EJ Ward

By EJ Ward

With the news 250,000 volunteers are needed by the NHS to help vulnerable people during the Covid-19 crisis people have been signing up in their droves.

The Health Secretary said people are needed to assist with the national effort to tackle coronavirus by shopping, delivering medicines and supporting those who are shielding themselves against coronavirus.

Less than 12 hours later Stephen Powis, NHS England medical director, said there had been "outbreaks of altruism and people wanting to help", adding that he was "bowled over" by medics returning to the front line and the response from people signing up to help the vulnerable.

"Overnight 170,000 people have signed up - that's three a minute to help the NHS," he said. "It's an absolutely astonishing response."

Read more: Are the police stopping people who go outside during the lockdown?

He added: "This is a health emergency, we can all play a role in ensuring we get on top of coronavirus and at the same time expand capacity in the NHS."

LBC News has been speaking to those who have signed up, and LBC's own Rachael Venables has said she will do her bit too.

Read more: Can you drive during the coronavirus lockdown?

Marco from Manchester told LBC News he was volunteering for the NHS because of the scale of the crisis, he said: "This is a national crisis and it demands a response of national effort.

He said this was something he could do to help out: "Whilst I'm not a key worker battling this virus on the front line, there is a part I can safely play."

Read more: Coronavirus symptoms - What are they and what is the risk of Covid-19 in the UK?

"Key workers are risking their health and the health of their families each and every day working in law enforcement, the NHS and keeping society together. This is the least I can do and I'd encourage anyone else to take time to help out in any way they can," Marco said.

Anyone who is over the age of 18, fit and healthy and non-symptomatic can offer their time to the scheme.

Read more: Who is a key worker and what children are classed as vulnerable in UK school closures?

Steven from London said he felt he couldn't really do much to help during the crisis, but that he needed to do something.

He said he signed up to be a "check-in and chat volunteer" providing telephone support to individuals who are at risk of loneliness as a consequence of self-isolation.

Steven said: "It's happening all around us and I really want to help people where I can, I can't do much but I would like to speak to people on the phone and talk to them when they need someone. I used to be a Samaritan so I know how hard it can be."

Read more: How long does Covid-19 live on surfaces, and is it safe to get overseas post?

The Red Cross have praised the NHS using volunteers and pointed towards other organisations also available to help those affected by the illness.

Mike Adamson, chief executive of British Red Cross said: "These volunteers will be vital in easing the pressure on our NHS and ensuring the most vulnerable people in our communities, including those with pre-existing health conditions, are being properly supported during this unprecedented time."

Read more: Coronavirus and pregnant women: What is the official government advice?

He added: "From organisations like the British Red Cross, St John Ambulance and the Salvation Army, to the thousands of mutual aid groups across the UK, there is already an enormous nationwide effort to support people being affected by the coronavirus crisis."

Rachael Venables

By Rachael Venables

Volunteering wasn’t something I thought long and hard about, it just felt like the right thing to do.

I know I’m lucky, I’m young and healthy, and by working early hours on the radio I often have free afternoon I can use my free time to help people.

My grandparents who are very vulnerable and self-isolating for the next 12 weeks. I’m too far away to help them - so I’d like to be able to help someone else locally, and trust that others will do the same for them.

I’m not sure what the job will entail, I ticked all the boxes hoping they’ll slot me where they most need me in my local area!

Find out how you can sign up to be an NHS volunteer and do your bit to help.

Members of the public can sign up quickly and easily here to become NHS Volunteer Responders, and can be called on to do simple but vital tasks such as:

– delivering medicines from pharmacies;

– driving patients to appointments;

– bringing them home from hospital;

– or making regular phone calls to check on people isolating at home.

NHS Volunteer Responders is not intended to replace local groups helping their vulnerable neighbours but is an additional service provided by the NHS.