Volunteers have completed half a million tasks to help the NHS and their patients, according to the Royal Voluntary Service, which helped develop the scheme.
Charities, along with councils and other local and national bodies, have recruited and managed more than 350,000 volunteers in England, RVS said. Those volunteers have helped patients get to hospital appointments, delivered food and medicines to patients at home, and checked on the welfare of people left on their own as they self-isolate.
The scheme has now been expanded to support people with confirmed Covid-19 or who have suspected symptoms. Frontline NHS and care staff can access volunteer support through the scheme as well, to free them up to focus on their own work.
RVS: We are still identifying people who need support
The four areas where volunteers are most active are Wolverhampton, Hastings, Middlesbrough and Kensington and Chelsea.
Catherine Johnstone, the chief executive of RVS, said: “To reach this significant milestone is testament to the goodwill of our nation who have come together to tackle this virus.
“Through the scale of our network, the NHS Volunteer Responders scheme has and will continue to provide a vital safety net for all people in need of support across England, and we can’t thank our volunteers enough.”
“Our volunteers are important eyes and ears on the ground, and not only are they helping to do the day to day tasks that those isolating may not be able to do, but they are also playing an important role in identifying individuals who need additional support.
“It has been inspiring to see volunteers, friends, families and communities pulling together to help one another as the nation continues to battle coronavirus, and we want to remind everyone that help is still available for those continuing to stay at home, even as lockdown measures begin to ease.”
Stephen Powis, the NHS national medical director, said: “We know that thousands of people relied on support from their friends and families during these uncertain times.
“But for those who didn’t have this support system, the NHS volunteers responder scheme was there to help – not just health service staff but councils, charities and others – and it is an incredible achievement that over half a million tasks have been completed by volunteers across the country.
“I’m sure every single one of those tasks, however small, has brought comfort to some of the most vulnerable in our society and made a huge difference to them during this difficult period.”
The half million milestone was reached in the same week that the Office for National Statistics released data showing that people were doing more to help their neighbours during the coronavirus pandemic.
The data shows that half of adults say they had helped someone outside their household during the lockdown period, a substantial increase compared to the year before.