Let the Christmas spirit ring
This may be a Christmas like no other, but, as NHS Volunteer Responders we can still bring some festive cheer to neighbours in need
Christmas is here and it’s not what many of us expected. Like many others, I’ve had to abandon plans to visit relatives, although my caring responsibilities will continue. Yet as well as spending time with friends and family, this is also a time of year when people want to help others. So, as you improvise your way through the festive season and realise that the TV schedule is not going to give you sufficient stimulation, please remember to switch on duty as an NHS Volunteer Responder when you have time to spare.
The need for your help is growing daily. The increased infection rate associated with the new variant of COVID-19 has seen a significant growth in demand in many parts of the country. Yesterday alone saw a 90% increase in requests for support. As well as having a friendly conversation with people spending Christmas alone or helping those shielding from the virus with their shopping or medicines, there are now some additional ways that you can help. This week, for example, NHS Volunteer Responders have started signing up as stewards for the new vaccination centres, as we race to inoculate those most vulnerable to the virus.
Christmas is already a difficult time for many people and this year, due to COVID-19 restrictions, even more will spend it alone. NHS Volunteer Responders, like the NHS as a whole, will keep going throughout the holiday, matching those who need help with volunteers who have time to give. Please therefore take the time now to consider when you can switch yourself on duty over the Christmas and New Year break. Volunteers who go on duty can expect to receive alerts between 8.30am to 6pm throughout the Christmas and New Year holiday and the Contact Centre, Support Team and Safeguarding Team will be on duty with you as usual between 8am to 8pm. If going on duty is not an option for you over the holiday period, don't forget to switch back on as soon as you can. There will be plenty of people needing our support afterwards too.
This Christmas won’t be an ordinary Christmas but it is still a time of year people should not have to spend on their own. And chances are that you will find making a check-in call more rewarding than that Christmas repeat on the TV.
Neil Churchill, Director, Experience, Participation and Equalities Group, NHS England and NHS Improvement
23 December 2020