Major call for volunteers to help NHS fight coronavirus

Tuesday, 24 March 2020
Volunteering charity, Royal Voluntary Service has been enlisted to help the NHS recruit a volunteer army of 250,000 to support the 1.5 million people who have been asked to shield themselves from coronavirus because of underlying health conditions.


The new volunteer recruits, called the NHS Volunteer Responders #NHSVolunteerResponders, will relieve pressure on the health service by supporting the most vulnerable to stay safe and well at home.

The service will enable health professions – GPs, nurses, NHS111, ambulance trusts, pharmacists or community health trusts – to register a request for help via the GoodSAM app. Each request for an NHS Volunteer Responder will be matched with a volunteer who lives nearby.

Members of the public can sign up quickly and easily at goodsamapp.org/NHS to become NHS Volunteer Responders, and can be called on to do simple but vital tasks. There are four volunteer roles available including:

  • Community Response volunteer: This role involves collecting shopping, medication or other essential supplies for someone who is self-isolating, and delivering these supplies to their home.
  • Patient Transport volunteer: This role supports the NHS by providing transport to patients who are medically fit for discharge, and ensuring that they are settled safely back in to their home.
  • NHS Transport volunteer: This role involves transporting equipment, supplies and/or medication between NHS services and sites, it may also involve assisting pharmacies with medication delivery.
  • Check in and Chat volunteer: This role provides short-term telephone support to individuals who are at risk of loneliness as a consequence of self-isolation.
Those interested in joining the NHS Volunteer Responders should register on the NHS Volunteer Responders page goodsamapp.org/NHS complete their details and identify which volunteer roles they are interested in. Once the checks are complete they will be emailed a verification code and log-in details and can download the GoodSAM Responders app. They then simply switch on the app when they are available for volunteering jobs.


"Human compassion comes to the fore at times of great crisis. We saw that when Royal Voluntary Service was first founded during the outbreak of WW2 when a million women stepped forward to help those in need.

"Since then our volunteers have continued to provide vital support in hospitals and in communities; helping people get back on their feet after a personal crisis. In 2020 we find ourselves once again facing a daunting national challenge. We are proud to support the NHS at this important moment and we are certain many thousands of people will selflessly step up to play their part."

Catherine Johnstone, Chief Executive, Royal Voluntary Service

"In these extraordinary times, it’s essential that we all pull together as part of the national effort to protect the most vulnerable, reduce pressures on our NHS and care system and save lives.

"If you are well and able to do so safely, I would urge you to sign up today to help the most vulnerable people in our communities as an NHS Volunteer Responder.

"Your help has the potential to make a real difference to some of those most affected by this outbreak – from delivering essential prescriptions to calling to check on the wellbeing of those self-isolating.

"I am immensely proud of how the whole country is coming together to help one another – we must continue to listen to and live by the latest medical and scientific advice and through this national effort we can truly make a difference."

Health and Social Care Secretary, Matt Hancock

"GoodSAM has been saving lives through technology for five years by crowdsourcing resuscitation in cardiac arrest. We are hugely proud to now also be crowdsourcing volunteers to help those in need at this time of national crisis."

Dr Mark Wilson, GoodSAM co-founder

"Coronavirus is the biggest challenge we have ever faced, which is why we’re rallying the troops and telling the public: your NHS needs you.

"Across the country people are playing their part in the fight against the virus by staying home for the next 12 weeks, to protect themselves, others and the NHS.

"But many of those shielding will need our support to do that, and by signing up to be an NHS Volunteer Responder, people who are well can do their bit too.

"This is one of those once-in-a-lifetime moments where a single action from one person can be the difference between life and death for another, and simple acts of kindness are going to make all the difference in keeping some of the most vulnerable people well and out of hospital.

"NHS staff are pulling out all the stops to ensure those who need care receive it, and creating a bank of helpers that they can call upon to support their most vulnerable patients through this difficult time is going to be invaluable, so I would urge anyone who can to sign up as an NHS Volunteer Responder today."

Dr Nikki Kanani, GP and Medical Director of Primary Care at NHS England and Improvement

"Our army of dedicated volunteers is already getting ready to play a crucial part in the coronavirus response.

"GoodSam is a great way to connect those volunteers with people in need quickly and safely. I urge those of you who can to register today, support our NHS and help vulnerable people shielding at home."

Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, Oliver Dowden


For further information

Royal Voluntary Service is one of the largest voluntary service organisations in Britain. We inspire and enable volunteers to help people in need in hospitals, at home and in the community.

Our volunteers improve patient experience in hospital, aid recovery after a stay on ward, help older people support themselves at home, stay fit and active and build meaningful social connections.

Royal Voluntary Service supports volunteers to run services in the community such as lunch and dining clubs, physical activity classes, craft, gardening and other hobby groups. We work collaboratively with other charities, social care providers and the NHS to help create a society where everyone feels valued and involved.

The charity is one of the UK’s largest hospital retailers with volunteer-run shops, cafés and trolley services providing tea and company to patients, hospital staff and visitors.

To become a local volunteer search for volunteering opportunities in your area. Or help make a difference by making a secure online donation.

If you are a member of the press and have a media enquiry please contact the Media Team. For all other enquiries, contact us.


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