Now let’s go for a million! Incredible response to NHS volunteer drive sees more than 670,000 sign up to help fight coronavirus in just two days
- NHS volunteer army reaches 670,663 within the space of 48 hours
- Tax manager, champion sports driver and travel worker explain why they joined
- There are calls for the government to set a new target of 1milion volunteers
- Coronavirus symptoms: what are they and should you see a doctor?
The NHS now has more volunteers to fight coronavirus than it does doctors, nurses and therapists.
By last night an astonishing 670,663 had signed up to help in 48 hours, in the greatest national display of altruism since the Second World War.
The kind-hearted volunteers will start next week, delivering food and medication to 1.5million vulnerable people who have been told to stay at home.
Jessica Buck was inspired to volunteer by her sister who works on an NHS children’s ward. The 27-year-old said: ‘I see first-hand how long and hard my sister and her colleagues work in hospitals every day. When they put out the call for volunteers I signed up straight away’
They will also shuttle patients to and from hospital and provide regular phone calls to combat loneliness.
The Government has raised the target for the volunteer army to 750,000 – after its initial aim of recruiting 250,000 people in a week was met in less than 24 hours. But last night there were calls for ministers to increase the target to a million.
NHS chief executive Sir Simon Stevens said yesterday he was ‘humbled’ by the extraordinary response to the ‘call to arms’.
He said: ‘The response we are seeing from the public to join us in our country’s greatest time of need is extraordinary, and on behalf of everyone working in the NHS, I would like to thank each and every person who has signed up to volunteer – you will be, without a shadow of a doubt, helping us to save lives.
‘They have shown the kindness of our country and have highlighted once again just how much people value the health service and every single person working in it.
‘And to anyone else considering joining the ranks of our new volunteer army: the NHS is always there for you, and now is your time to be there for us, and for each other too.’
Latest NHS figures show there are 594,158 hospital doctors, GPs, nurses therapists, scientists and technical staff. Volunteers can register at www.goodsamapp.org.
Those who sign up will undergo background criminal records checks and be asked to upload identity documents, including driving licences if they are using their cars.
Champion racing driver Matt Howson will put his talents to a different use – taking patients home from hospitals in his sports car
They will get online training before being matched with a vulnerable person and will get ‘chat prompts’ to help make conversation.
Their main job will be to help the 1.5million very high-risk individuals who have been advised to isolate themselves completely for at least the next 12 weeks.
Those signing up since Tuesday include travel industry worker Jessica Buck, 27, from Oxford.
She was inspired to volunteer by her sister, who works on an NHS children’s ward. ‘I see first-hand how long and hard my sister and her colleagues work in hospitals every day,’ she said.
‘We’ve all got to stick together even if we’re far apart. I will help people shopping and chat on the phone to prevent loneliness. My nan lives alone and I know how much it helps her just to speak to me over the phone every day.’
Lisa O’Hare who has volunteered to help the NHS through the coronavirus crisis. Lisa, 44, from Wilmslow is a tax manager able to work from home but has signed up to help
Tax manager Lisa O’Hare, 44, from Wilmslow, Cheshire, said: ‘I’ve got a dodgy kidney. If it wasn’t for the NHS, I wouldn’t be here. They’ve saved me and so many people I love so many times. This is the least I can do.’
Champion sports car driver Matt Howson, 36, from London, will put his talents to use ferrying patients and delivering supplies.
‘I’m healthy and able to offer transport – at an appropriate speed of course,’ he said.
Two years ago, the Daily Mail’s Hospital Helpforce campaign highlighted the immense enthusiasm amongst the public for helping the NHS, with more than 34,000 readers signing up.