To mark Volunteers’ Week, volunteers in the South East 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 275,000 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, as well as those who need to self-isolate or who have caring responsibilities. Across the South East 42,952 tasks have been completed to date.
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. Requests for help can be made by professionals including doctors, nurses and social care staff, and by individuals for themselves. The scheme now averages 7,000 tasks a day, of which 98% are undertaken within 24 hours; and the majority (70%) within two hours.
Kimberley Harvey, 30, Portsmouth. Kimberley is a recruitment consultant and was furloughed due to the pandemic. Kimberley said: “It felt like a really worthwhile thing to do, I live on my own and wanted to do something to help other people.
“Volunteer Responders had the option of four different tasks – community response, patient transport, NHS transport and check in and chat. I signed up to do all four. I’m healthy, I can drive and I love speaking to people, so I felt happy to do anything. It’s been amazing, a really positive experience.”
Caroline Beardall, Director of Workforce and Organisational Development for NHS England and NHS Improvement South East said:
“We have been so impressed by the response from all those in the south east who have volunteered to be part of this scheme. We are grateful for the proactivity and flexibility of the volunteers and the speed of their responses. All those individuals from many walks of life, who have put the needs of others first and offered their time and services to more vulnerable members of the community, deserve our praise and thanks. You have helped us make the scheme the success it is.”
NHS England and NHS Improvement in the South East 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.