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The Duchess of Cornwall thanks North West volunteers for their support during COVID-19

To mark Volunteers’ Week, volunteers in the North West 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 North West, 29,840 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.

James, 47, is a supermarket assistant and OFSTED registered childminding assistant. James said: 

"This has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my adult life. I've met some lovely people and amazing characters and it's something I'd consider doing in the future. It's been a wonderful distraction in an uncertain time."

NHS England and NHS Improvement in the North West 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

Dr Linda Charles-Ozuzu, NHS North West Director of Commissioning and Regional Volunteering Lead, said:

“The pandemic has had a significant impact on our population. The work of our NHS volunteer responders who have worked with us and the whole community has been brilliant and really made a difference. We’d like to send our heartfelt thanks to all those who have come forward to help at this time.”

About NHS Volunteer Responders

  • NHS Volunteer Responders is a new scheme established as part of the COVID-19 response, involving volunteers who carry out simple, non-medical tasks to support people in England.  The scheme helps people to stay safe and well at home.
  • The support of NHS Volunteer Responders is now available to anyone who:
    • Has been advised to shield by a health professional;
    • Is vulnerable for another reason (for instance disability, pregnancy, over 70, have Parkinson's, epilepsy, or are vulnerable due to a mental health condition);
    • Is self-isolating because they have confirmed COVID19 or suspected symptoms, or they have been in contact with someone who has.
    • Is someone with caring responsibilities, if this support helps them to continue in their caring role.
  • NHS Volunteer Responders have been recruited for five key roles:
  • Community Response Volunteer: This involves collecting shopping, medication or other essential supplies for someone who is self-isolating/vulnerable, and delivering these supplies to their home.
  • Community Response volunteer Plus: These volunteers can collect and deliver shopping, medication or other essential supplies for patients with cognitive impairments and or significant vulnerabilities, and who are shielding.
  • Check-in and Chat Volunteer: This provides short-term telephone support to individuals who would benefit from someone to talk to during their self-isolation.
  • Patient Transport Volunteer: These volunteers providing transport by car to patients who are medically fit for discharge, as well as taking patients to their essential appointments.
  • NHS Transport Volunteer: This involves transporting equipment, supplies and/or medication between NHS services and sites; it may also involve assisting pharmacies with medication delivery.
  • NHS Volunteer Responders are not intended to replace local groups helping their vulnerable neighbours but is an additional service provided by the NHS.
  • The NHS and Royal Voluntary Service continue to encourage those needing support to self-refer by calling 0808 196 3646

About NHS England and NHS Improvement

From 1 April 2019 NHS England and NHS Improvement have come together to act as a single organisation. Our aim is to better support the NHS and help improve care for patients.

NHS England and NHS improvement set the priorities and direction for the NHS, encouraging and informing the national debate to improve health and care. The NHS in England deals with over 1 million patients every 36 hours and employs more than 1.5 million people, putting it in the top five of the world’s largest workforces. More than £100 billion in funds is shared out with organisations held to account for spending this money effectively for patients and efficiently for the tax payer. We strongly believe in health and high-quality care for all, now and for future generations.

About Royal Voluntary Service

·        Royal Voluntary Service is one of the largest voluntary service organisations in the country.  It inspires and enables thousands of volunteers to give their skills, experience, energy and time to help people in need in hospitals, at home and in the community.

  • Originally set up as the Women’s Voluntary Services in 1938 (subsequently the WRVS from 1966-2013), it started out helping civilians during the Second World War.

·        To mark its 75th anniversary in 2013, it changed its name to ‘Royal Voluntary Service’ to reflect the role played by all our volunteers, men as well as women.

·        The charity’s volunteers improve patient experience in hospital, aid recovery after a stay on ward, help older people better support themselves at home and stay fit and active and build meaningful social connections.

·        Royal Voluntary Service supports volunteers to run services in the community such as lunch and dining clubs, physical activity classes, craft, gardening and other hobby groups.

·        The charity is one of the UK’s largest hospital retailers with 230 volunteer-run shops, cafes and trolley services providing tea and company to patients, hospital staff and visitors.  Royal Voluntary Service promotes healthy eating and drinking in hospitals through its Healthier Choices programme. It has been ranked top of the Healthy Hospital Food League Table by the Campaign for Better Hospital Food and has been awarded a Social Enterprise Mark for its retail operation.

·        It works collaboratively with other charities, social care providers and the NHS to help create a society where everyone feels valued and involved. 

·        For more information on the Royal Voluntary Service, please visit royalvoluntaryservice.org.uk/.

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