With a little help from our friends….and volunteers
We thought Christmas was challenging and then along came January. There’s never been a winter like it for the NHS and we can only get through it together
This winter is probably the most challenging the NHS has ever faced as we cope with a surge in the new variant of the virus. As always, we are enormously grateful for the support we have received from NHS Volunteer Responders.
Many of you have kept going week in and week out throughout the pandemic, while others have switched back on duty or put in extra hours during the festive period. This has helped us meet a significant increase in need from people looking for help, whether practical or emotional.
There are many reasons why need has increased. People who are vulnerable to the virus, due to their age or an underlying health condition, have been hunkering down at home and need help once more collecting medicines, shopping or medical equipment. More people are being cared for at home, often with remote monitoring devices that volunteers have delivered. And as long days alone stretch into weeks, people who are lonely and isolated gain vital cheer from a check in and chat call.
We have all seen this in our own families. I regularly look after my mum, but she lives 25 miles away and there are times when she needs to ask for help from a neighbour or a volunteer instead. I'm always impressed and grateful that the help is there for her when she needs it and like putting in time as an NHS Volunteer Responder to help vulnerable people living closer to me.
Thanks are to those of you who have also stepped forward to help with the mass vaccination campaigns. Many of the vaccination sites are new and unfamiliar, and steward volunteers will help people find their way around efficiently and safely. Volunteer vaccinators are also helping us inoculate vulnerable people faster. We appreciate that many of you are doing this on top of other volunteering roles.
Now that the festive season is behind us, we need you to carry on as much as you can with the extra hours you have been putting in. While the vaccination campaign is obviously a priority, we don't want to let people down who are relying on us for other forms of support. We know we are asking a lot and that volunteering with NHSVR is one of many things going on in your lives. But if we can help vulnerable people through these weeks while they get vaccinated, we will play a major part in ending this terrible phase of the pandemic and moving the country onto better times.
Neil Churchill, Director, Experience, Participation and Equalities Group, NHS England and NHS Improvement
18 January 2021