The Only National Awards For Non-Medical / Non-Clinical NHS Staff & Volunteers

Our NHS Volunteers are Here to Save the Day

12th June 2020

Volunteering has always been an integral part of UK society, and the contributions of thousands of people from all different backgrounds across the UK, who have volunteered in the NHS during Lockdown has not gone unnoticed.


2020 UHA Volunteer of the Year award winners: Derbyshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust Derby Community Parent Programme, with Emma Easton, Head of Voluntary Partnerships at NHS England and NHS Improvement. 


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 giving their time so selflessly. This year, volunteers are more valued than ever, and many people have stepped forward to volunteer in 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, which helps those most vulnerable in need of shopping, medical attention, or even just a phone call to ‘check in’ on those living on their own. Other volunteer roles that have involved people helping their communities include serving food to the NHS, volunteering in emergency services and helping the homeless.


Emma Easton, Head of Voluntary Partnerships for NHS England and NHS Improvement told us more about the rise of the numbers of volunteers during the Pandemic, and how they are making 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 though 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 be celebrated for their heartfelt work.

This year’s Volunteer of the Year winner at the 2020 awards was the Derby Community Parent Programme at the Derbyshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust. They won for their work acting as birth partners at 11 births, which included being on call 24/7 around the babies’ due dates, as well as providing 1-1 support for 30 referrals over the last six months and reached 1,192 parents in the local community.



Another example of the effect volunteering for the NHS can have on the community is our 2020 Lifetime Service award winner Harry Mercer from the 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 recently, due to complications relating to COVID-19.

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.’”

2020 Lifetime Service Award Winner, Harry Mercer


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 also thank all our previous Volunteers who have featured in our Awards for everything that they continue to 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.

Click here to find out more about how you can Volunteer for the NHS.

For more information on Coronavirus, click on the links below:

There is also a well being hotline to support staff and volunteers as they help people deal with the Coronavirus:

0300 131 7000
Text FRONTLINE to 85258

Lily Harrison, Content Writer at Unsung Hero Awards