How to become an NHS coronavirus volunteer and are they classed as key workers?

UP TO 250,000 NHS volunteers are being sought to help about 1.5million people self-isolating to shield themselves from coronavirus because of underlying health conditions.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock says that heroes volunteering to help others during the pandemic are working in the national effort.

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How can you become an NHS coronavirus volunteer?

Members of the public can sign up via to become NHS Volunteer Responders.

Those helping might be called on to do simple but vital tasks such as:

  • Delivering medicines from pharmacies
  • Driving patients to appointments
  • Taking them home from hospital
  • Making regular phone calls to check on people isolating at home

NHS Volunteer Responders is not intended to replace local groups helping their vulnerable neighbours but is an additional service provided by the NHS.

Doctors, pharmacists, nurses, midwives, NHS 111 advisers and social care staff will all be able to request help for their at-risk patients via a call centre run by the Royal Voluntary Service (RVS).

The service will match people who need help with volunteers who live near to them.

Some charities will also be able to refer people to the service. 

Dr Nikki Kanani, GP and NHS Director of Primary Care, said: "Many of those shielding will need our support to do that, and by signing up to be an NHS Volunteer Responder, people who are well can do their bit too.

“This is one of those once-in-a-lifetime moments where a single action from one person can be the difference between life and death for another.

"Simple acts of kindness are going to make all the difference in keeping some of the most vulnerable people well and out of hospital."

How else can you help?

The National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) says that, "for now, the best thing to do is to check in on neighbours".

For example, you could offer help with shopping and other errands.

It adds that other people in the community who might also appreciate help are:

  • Stretched medical staff and volunteers
  • Staff and volunteers in key worker roles
  • Supermarket workers
  • Delivery drivers

NCVO suggests people can volunteer with organisations providing support.

Charities are currently working with government and local authorities to create ways for volunteers to get involved.

  • If you don’t have a particular charity you want to support in your local area, contact your local Volunteer Centre, CVS or visit the Do-it website to find out where your help is most urgently needed
  • You can sign up to the British Red Cross' community reserve volunteers scheme
  • Your local foodbank may appreciate donations or help with deliveries for those who can't leave the house
  • You can find more information on this on The Trussell Trust and Fareshare websites

Are coronavirus volunteers classed as key workers?

Health Secretary Matt Hancock told MPs in the House of Commons today that volunteering “is a legitimate reason to travel”.

He added: “I just want to make it absolutely clear that for people that are volunteering in the response to Covid-19, people who are caring even with unpaid and informal caring responsibilities, then it is OK to go and do that.

“And you should do that, but you should stay more than two metres away from others wherever possible.

"But this has to be a practical instruction because of course we need to care for people.

“And I want to make clear that volunteering in the response to Covid-19 is a legitimate reason to travel.”

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