Millions of vulnerable people and their families will be able to directly call on the army of NHS Volunteer Responders, the NHS and Royal Voluntary Service have announced today by phoning 0808 196 3646.
Over 600,000 volunteers have been approved to help those most at risk who are isolating at home from coronavirus, more than double the original target.
The scheme has been fully operational for two weeks with healthcare practitioners, pharmacists and local authority and social care staff calling on volunteers to carry out around 35,000 tasks to date, including delivering medicines, shopping and other supplies as well as making calls to check in on those isolating at home.
In some areas volunteers have been called upon to take blood pressure monitors or other equipment to patients’ homes to enable health professionals to remotely monitor their health.
The NHS and Royal Voluntary Service are now taking steps to make the service more personalised for people who need support and increase referrals into the programme, including enabling self-referral for those most at risk and continuing to raise awareness of the programme in GP practices, pharmacies and with local authorities and social care providers.
The huge number of volunteers who have stepped forward means the NHS and Royal Voluntary Service can help not just the estimated 1.5 million people being “shielded” from the virus, but also other people identified as vulnerable or receiving care in the community with local authorities also able to make referrals.
Professor Stephen Powis, NHS national medical director said: ‘The public has stepped up in numbers even greater than we hoped, to give their time supporting the heroic efforts of NHS and social care staff fighting this virus at the front line.
‘Our partners at the Royal Voluntary Service and GoodSAM have worked flat out to check and approve tens of thousands of applications every day, an incredible undertaking in itself, and we now have more than half a million people ready to get to work and support their neighbours.
‘The scale of the public response means volunteers will be brought in to help look after a wider group of people who need support from this army of volunteers.
‘Where a vulnerable person may not have friends and family able to help, they will be able to put in a call to ask for volunteer support.’
Chief executive of Royal Voluntary Service, Catherine Johnstone CBE said: ‘The selflessness of our volunteers has inspired the nation, and we’ve been overwhelmed by the outpouring of support we’ve received since the launch. Demonstrating the continued love and support of our NHS in this difficult time has given hope to everyone working on the frontline.
‘Now we have our army of volunteers already working or ready to accept activities to support people at this critical time.’
Co-founders of GoodSAM Mark Wilson and Ali Ghorbanghli said: ‘By opening the referral system so that those in need can directly request help, the NHS, Royal Voluntary Service and the GoodSAM platform will be able to provide even greater support during the Coronavirus crisis. Once again we would like to thank the Volunteers for all they are doing.’
So if you are isolating and need help please do not hesitate to call the helpline on 0808 196 3646.