In Brief

What is the NHS volunteering scheme - and how do I sign up?

Call for 250,000 volunteers to help vulnerable people isolated by pandemic

The health secretary has announced the government is seeking 250,000 volunteers to support the NHS during the coronavirus outbreak.

The NHS has said the volunteers will help the 1.5m vulnerable people who have been asked to “shield” themselves by remaining at home during the coming weeks.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock is urging a “national effort” to support the NHS, adding: “We are seeking a quarter of a million volunteers, people in good health, to help the NHS, for shopping, for delivery of medicines and to support those who are shielded to protect their own health.

“The NHS responders is a new scheme set up so that people can come and help and make sure the NHS and the local services that are needed can get all the support that they can.”

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Most of the tasks can be performed while social distancing and volunteers will receive further guidance through a “getting started pack”.

Volunteers must be 18 or over, with no symptoms. However, Sky News reports that those in higher-risk groups can still offer support by telephone.

There are four roles:

  • Community response volunteers: to collect shopping, medication and other supplies for someone who is self-isolating
  • Patient transport volunteers: to provide transport for those who are medically fit for discharge, and settle them safely back in to their home
  • NHS transport volunteers: to move equipment, supplies and medication between sites
  • Check-in and chat volunteers: to provide telephone support to individuals who are at risk of loneliness due to self-isolation

Those who wish to help can register online. Volunteers will be asked to fill in a form with their details, before checks are then carried out. 

Successful applicants are given login details for the “GoodSAM” Responder app, which can then switched to “on duty” to find tasks nearby.

On Tuesday, the number of coronavirus deaths in the UK rose to 422, with more than 8,000 confirmed cases of the virus.

If you wish to sign up as a NHS volunteer, more details can be found here.

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