Volunteering in the NHS1st June 2021
NHS Volunteers have always made a huge contribution to our health and wellbeing, giving their time, skills and expertise freely each year to support services across the country. They play a crucial part in the NHS’s vision for the future of health and social care, working in partnership with staff members to deliver the best possible outcomes for patients.
In current times, volunteering in the NHS has become more vital than ever. Individuals and teams across the country have stepped up to deliver a range of local services during the course of the pandemic, working closely with the NHS and social care sectors to provide a helping hand to those who need it most.
A volunteering scheme that has been particularly successful is the NHS Volunteer Responders, which was set up by NHS England and NHS Improvement back in March 2020. The scheme operates at a community level, providing assistance with everything from collecting shopping and medicines, to making regular contact with those who are lonely or vulnerable. Other volunteer roles include serving food to NHS staff members, as well as emergency service aid and assistance to those who are homeless.
Neil Churchill, Director for Experience, Participation and Equalities at NHS England and NHS Improvement, reflected on the importance of NHS volunteers over the course of the coronavirus crisis:
“Collectively, people have stepped forward to make sure that their families, friends and neighbours have been supported. Although the circumstances of this pandemic are unique, the needs we are encountering – loneliness, vulnerability, mental distress – are not. One of the positive legacies of this period must be that we find a way to engage more volunteers more regularly in support of greater health and wellbeing for all.”
This is something that is championed by Derby Community Parent Programme Volunteers, our 2020 winners of the Volunteer of the Year Award. They are standing by 24 hours a day for parents at Derbyshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, and have so far reached over 1,192 parents in their local area. Volunteers attend regular training, all in their own time, to provide one-to-one support and referrals to those in need.
While COVID-19 restrictions have inevitably had an impact on services, the team have risen to the challenge to assist expectant parents through text, telephone and email to support and protect parents, volunteers and their families. This type of peer support has proven to be extremely effective in providing consistency to hard-to-reach communities, bridging the gap between expecting parents and the medical professionals that care for them.
In current times, it’s the small acts of kindness that really can make all the difference. Volunteers in the NHS have a real opportunity to create valuable experiences for those who need support, which in turn strengthens ties within local communities and beyond. We’d like to say a huge thank you to NHS volunteers who are giving their time and commitment to help others in difficult circumstances.
At the Unsung Hero Awards, we’re always on the lookout for those going the extra mile for their communities. If you know of a Non-Medical / Non-Clinical NHS volunteer who has been providing outstanding service in the wake of the pandemic, nominate them throughout June for the chance to win an Unsung Hero Award later in the year: https://www.unsungheroawards.com/nominate/
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