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To mark Volunteers’ Week, volunteers in the Midlands have been thanked by the Duchess of Cornwall for their acts of kindness to support the NHS during the Covid-19 pandemic.
“The first week of June is traditionally Volunteers’ Week, when we celebrate our unsung heroes. This year in particular, we owe a great debt of thanks to all our wonderful volunteers, who have stepped forward in astonishing numbers, pulling together to support those affected by COVID-19. As the very proud President of the Royal Voluntary Service, I should like to say that you truly are the backbone of our country. To each and every volunteer – thank you from the bottom of my heart.”
HRH The Duchess of Cornwall
More than a quarter of a million tasks have now been carried out by the NHS Volunteer Responders. The programme has been set up by the NHS in England, working with the Royal Voluntary Service, to help people who are the most vulnerable to COVID-19. Across the Midlands, 53,847 tasks have been completed to date, with 26,595 in the East Midlands and 27,252 in the West Midlands.
To aid people isolating during the pandemic, the volunteers have been providing grocery and prescription deliveries, lifts to medical appointments and ‘check in and chat’ calls. The scheme now averages 7,000 tasks a day, and 98% of requests for help – which can be made by referrers or individuals – are delivered within 24 hours, the majority (70%) matched and delivered within two hours.
Sabrina Ellis, 32, Wolverhampton. Sabrina is a Mental Health and Wellbeing Advisor and Director of her family company. As a registered mental health nurse who used to work for the NHS it was a no brainer to get involved with NHS Volunteer Responders.
“Due to my active family and work life, I decided to commit to the Check in and Chat option of the scheme.” said Sabrina. “This has been extremely rewarding already – my calls kicked off on bank holiday Monday, getting nine calls through in one day. The prompt sheets provided have been a great starting point to aid the flow of the calls and lead onto many varied conversations.
“It has been lovely to hear about people’s different stories and be able to use my mental health training to help some of the most vulnerable people,” adds Sabrina. “Even when I’ve needed further help the app’s assistance team have been extremely supportive. It feels really rewarding to know that I am doing my small bit to help in such uncertain times and hopefully relieving some pressure on the NHS.”
Bill Montague, aged 72, from Herefordshire has benefited greatly from the kind acts of NHS Responders. Bill is a heart transplant recipient who also has diabetes and a rare strain of Tuberculosis (TB). He was sent a letter advising him to shield. He lives next door to his eldest daughter, Di, and her family in rural Herefordshire. Di supports Bill at home, so is shielding too in order to be able to care for him.
“I’m very lucky to live rurally and with my family close by to support, but my daughter is shielding too in order to help care for me so she can’t go out to collect my medicine. We weren’t sure if we should ask for help but I’m so glad we did; within a couple of hours of our call, a volunteer arrived on his motorbike with my medicine. It’s not always easy to ask for help, but anyone who needs some assistance should make that call.”
NHS England and NHS Improvement in the Midlands and the Royal Voluntary Service are encouraging anyone in need of support – whether they have been asked to shield by a health professional, are self-isolating, or are vulnerable for another reason – to seek help by calling 0808 196 3646. Further information is available at: www.nhsvolunteerresponders.org.uk
Siobhan Heafield, the Chief Nurse for the Midlands, said: “We are extremely grateful for the incredible efforts of our Midlands volunteers so far, which will continue over the coming months. Thanks to their kindness, there are people on hand who can help you and your loved ones so please do not hesitate to get in touch if you need support. From a phone call if you’re isolating to getting help with shopping and medication, the NHS army of helpers are there for you.”