Coronavirus: NHS volunteers say 'we really can make a difference'

March 25, 2020

The NHS says it has been "bowled-over" after more than 500,000 people signed up to be a volunteer responder - 24 hours after the health secretary made an urgent appeal for help during the coronavirus crisis.

On Tuesday, Matt Hancock said the health service was looking for 250,000 people to assist in providing a range of services to the 1.5 million people in England considered to be the most vulnerable during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Jayne Marshall, from Derbyshire, was amongst the first to put her name forward.

"My mum is in a care home, in a lockdown situation," she told Sky News, "I can't get to see her, so I thought, at least I can try and do something for somebody else."

She added: "I wanted to be of use."

"Since the lockdown in particular you feel useless, you feel powerless, so volunteering I think is really important."

Volunteers will be drafted in to help in four main areas; patient transport, shopping and the collection of medicines, transporting medical supplies, and providing social calls for those who are self-isolating.

Gavin Palin, from Cheshire, has been an NHS volunteer for more than 20 years, and is currently helping a local community group deliver supplies directly to the vulnerable.

"The demand for what volunteers do is much greater now," he says, "so it's really challenging in that sense".

"But we really can make a difference. And the more of us volunteers there are, the easier it'll be for everyone."

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Since she started self-isolating two weeks ago, Jan McKeown, from Crewe, has already been receiving help with her shopping.

"I do feel very vulnerable," she told Sky News, "and trying to get shopping has been causing me a lot of stress".

"But what the volunteers have been doing has been amazing.

"It really is helping me to feel safer."

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