Celebrating our NHS Volunteers17th June 2020
Volunteering has always been an integral part of UK society, and the contributions of thousands of people from all different backgrounds who have volunteered in the NHS during lockdown has not gone unnoticed.
Last week was Volunteers Week; a cause that takes place annually to celebrate and say “thank you” to the millions of volunteers, NHS or otherwise, across the UK for their work. This year, volunteers are more valued than ever, as many people have stepped forward to volunteer for the NHS in aid of COVID-19, including the Duchess of Cambridge who has volunteered to be an NHS Volunteer Responder.
The role of an NHS Volunteer Responder is an important Non-Medical role that helps those most vulnerable who are in need of shopping, medical attention, or even just a phone call to ‘check in’ on those living on their own. Other volunteer roles include community assistance, such as serving food to NHS staff members, as well as emergency service aid and helping the homeless.
Emma Easton, Head of Voluntary Partnerships for NHS England and NHS Improvement told us more about the rise in numbers of volunteers during the Pandemic and how they have made a difference:
“This year, more than ever, we’ve seen so many outstanding local volunteering schemes that have quickly mobilised their limited resources to the best of uses. The hundreds of thousands of people who stepped forward to become an NHS Volunteer Responder has also meant that over 300,000 tasks have been completed to date to support people who are self-isolating.”
“Within the NHS, so many volunteers have stepped forward without a second thought to help during the pandemic, often taking on different roles to provide help where it was needed most. Their contributions have helped to keep people safe, ensuring they have a better experience and often saving lives.”
The Unsung Hero Awards have always been about celebrating both paid NHS staff and volunteers for their efforts and, since our inception in 2015, we have had some remarkable individuals recognised for their work.
One example is the 2020 Lifetime Service Award Winner Harry Mercer from Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust. Harry was known at the Trust as “The Volunteering King” with 70 years of volunteering experience, right up until his sad passing at 97 due to complications relating to COVID-19 earlier this year.
Harry’s nominator, Lynn McCormack said: “Harry Mercer devoted his life to volunteering, beginning in 1947 when he and his late wife Betty raised funds to build a headquarters for the Sea Scouts at Priors Haven in Tynemouth.”
“Harry loved his volunteering, he would always say “I would encourage anyone with spare time on their hands to come forward to help one way or the other, there is always a job for you.’”
If you feel inspired by Harry’s words, there is a link below to find out how you can volunteer for the NHS during Coronavirus. We would also like to thank all of our previous Volunteers who have featured in our Award ceremonies, winners or nominated, for everything they do for our communities. We hope to hear more inspiring stories of the strong and diverse volunteering community with the NHS at our future Awards.
Written by Lily Harrison | Freelance Content Writer