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Massive response to call for volunteers to help with coronavirus response

25 Mar 2020 News

The health secretary launched an appeal for 250,000 volunteers to support the NHS during the Covid-19 pandemic yesterday and by this morning 170,000 had signed up. 

Volunteers can register online with the GoodSAM responder app, which NHS workers will then be able to use to find nearby people able to help with things like transport. It is being delivered with the charity Royal Voluntary Service (RVS).  

The NHS scheme is not intended to replace other volunteering programmes, such as the Mutual-Aid groups that have sprung up. 

Some local authorities and infrastructure bodies have also been signing up volunteers in their area since last week.

Elsewhere, Volunteering Matters has launched an appeal to the business sector for people able to offer skills and logistical support to overstretched charities while their own activities have slowed down during the crisis. 

NHS volunteer scheme 

Matt Hancock, health secretary, launched the appeal for volunteers yesterday afternoon. 

NHS Volunteer Responders offer to do tasks like: 

  • 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.

Catherine Johnstone, chief executive of Royal Voluntary Service, said: "Human compassion comes to the fore at times of great crisis. We saw that when Royal Voluntary Service was first founded during the outbreak of WW2 when a million women stepped forward to help those in need.

"Since then our volunteers have continued to provide vital support in hospitals and in communities; helping people get back on their feet after a personal crisis. In 2020 we find ourselves once again facing a daunting national challenge. We are proud to support the NHS at this important moment and we are certain many thousands of people will selflessly step up to play their part."

Matching skilled volunteers to charities 

Volunteer Matters said that so far over 50 businesses have said they can help with things like business planning, project management, IT expertise – to help create online collaboration platforms and support for those working from home - and logistics, such as vehicle supply. 

It is expecting many more businesses to offer support in the coming days. 

Charities and other voluntary organisations looking for can tell Volunteering Matters what they need by completing this form.

Paul Reddish, chief executive of Volunteering Matters, said: “This is an unprecedented time which calls for us all to combine our resources to support charities, partners, people and businesses to support their communities.

“The reality is lots of people want to help, and we have an opportunity to match the huge demand the sector faces with the spare capacity available in other sectors as their own business activities slow down. 

“Given our experience in supporting employee volunteering and wider links in the sector, along with our own slow down in this side of our business, this feels like a natural way we can help mobilise skilled people to support the sector with the huge challenges we face in supporting people through the Covid-19 pandemic and associated restrictions.”

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