NHS volunteer responders: 250,000 target smashed with three quarters of a million committing to volunteer

The number of people committing to join the NHS Covid-19 effort is three times higher than initially targeted, the Royal Voluntary Service has today announced.

The NHS Volunteer Responders recruitment initiative has recruited 750,000 people just two days after the target was increased after hitting its initial quarter of a million target within less than 24 hours.

The drive will now be temporarily paused to enable the charity to process the applications and work together with the NHS to get the volunteer army up and running.

Those who have applied will be helping the NHS by performing the following simple but vital roles which help people without compromising strict government advice on self-isolation and social distancing:

  • Community Response volunteer: This role involves collecting shopping, medication or other essential supplies for someone who is self-isolating, and delivering these supplies to their home.
  • Patient Transport volunteer: This role supports the NHS by providing transport to patients who are medically fit for discharge, and ensuring that they are settled safely back in to their home.
  • NHS Transport volunteer: This role involves transporting equipment, supplies and/or medication between NHS services and sites, it may also involve assisting pharmacies with medication delivery.
  • Check in and Chat volunteer: This role provides short-term telephone support to individuals who are at risk of loneliness as a consequence of self-isolation.

An incredibly proud and humbled Catherine Johnstone CBE, Chief Executive of Royal Voluntary Service said: “On Tuesday evening, Royal Voluntary Service readied itself to launch the biggest call out for volunteers in England since the Second World War. Less than 24 hours later, we had hit our target of 250,000 sign-ups and today that number is at 750,000. We have been absolutely overwhelmed by the response and cannot thank the public enough. As history shows, it is often in times of crisis that we pull together and become our best selves.”

“Our team is now working flat out with colleagues in NHS England to process the many thousands of applications we’ve received, so we can get volunteers up and running as soon as possible and matched with patients that they can begin to support.

“Due to the enormous volume of applications, we have now paused recruitment and ask anyone who is still interested in volunteering to wait a few weeks for the application process to reopen. This will enable our team to focus on getting the first tranche of volunteers checked and out into the community. We fully expect that more volunteers will be required, and we will be issuing an update on areas of the country and roles that we still need to fill as soon as we can.”

“Can I also thank everyone from transport companies to yoga teachers for all the offers of practical support, we will come back to you to discuss these in due course but please bear with us whilst we are mobilising our volunteers.”

Ruth May, Chief Nursing Officer for England said: “We have been absolutely bowled over by the staggering response to our call for volunteers. I want to thank each and every one of the 750,000 people who have committed their precious time to help some of the most vulnerable people stay home and save lives. Coronavirus is an unprecedented global health emergency and your generosity and goodwill offers every one of us some light at the end of the tunnel.

“We will now concentrate on getting this incredible volunteer army up and running, with every single volunteer matched to local tasks and help vulnerable people in their communities. We continue to call on doctors and nurses who have left the NHS in recent years to re-register and help the health service to tackle this unprecedented challenge.”