A Direct Line to NHS Volunteer Army

Shutterstock © Lady on phone Pic: Shutterstock

When a recent call was put out to ask for NHS Volunteer Responders, a staggering 600,000 people came forward to help, and now millions of vulnerable and isolated people can directly call on this army of volunteers to get help with picking up shopping, medical supplies, or just to have a chat…

Who can ask for help?

  • People who have been advised to shield
  • People aged 70 years and older with underlying health conditions
  • People who are pregnant
  • People who are newly socially vulnerable as a result of COVID-19 as determined by a health care professional or local authority referrer
  • People who are registered disabled
  • People with chronic lung disease or moderate to severe asthma
  • People with serious heart conditions
  • People who are immunocompromised, including those who have had cancer treatment
  • Those with certain underlying medical conditions, particularly if not well controlled, such as diabetes, dementia, renal failure, or liver disease

How to ask for help

Shopping on doorstep Pic: Shutterstock

Pic: Shutterstock

You can directly call for help by phoning 0808 196 3646.

The scheme has been fully operational for two weeks and already volunteers have carried out 35,000 tasks, including delivering medicines, shopping and other supplies as well as making calls to check in on those isolating at home.

Professor Stephen Powis, NHS national medical director said, “The public has stepped up in numbers even greater than we hoped, to give their time supporting the heroic efforts of NHS and social care staff fighting this virus at the front line.

“Our partners at the Royal Voluntary Service and GoodSAM have worked flat out to check and approve tens of thousands of applications every day, an incredible undertaking in itself, and we now have more than half a million people ready to get to work and support their neighbours.

“The scale of the public response means volunteers will be brought in to help look after a wider group of people who need support from this army of volunteers.

Where a vulnerable person may not have friends and family able to help, they will be able to put in a call to ask for volunteer support.

Sabrina Ellis, 32, from Wolverhampton, is just one of the volunteers.

“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. This has been extremely rewarding already, my calls kicked off on bank holiday Monday getting nine calls through in one day.

“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. 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.”

Joel Charles, 34, another of the responders, added, 

What I find so exceptional about this difficult time is that people have become so neighbourly, something we haven’t seen in a long time.

“I received my first task last week which was to collect a bulk prescription for an elderly couple who had been very anxious about being able to get their prescriptions. It was encouraging to see their faces and the sense of relief when I was able to deliver it to their doorstep. I was just delighted to be of service.”

If you need help, call 0808 196 3646.

Allison Hay

I joined the "My Weekly" team thirteen years ago and, more recently, "The People's Friend". I love the variety of topics we cover both online and in the magazines. I manage the digital content for the brands, sharing features and information on the website, social media and in our digital newsletters.