Royal Voluntary Service leads major call up for public to volunteer through COVID winter crisis

Thursday, 08 October 2020 Hour of Need
Stars back the ‘Hour of Need’ campaign inviting public to donate time to their communities during the next phase of the pandemic

Royal Voluntary Service, one of Britain’s largest volunteering charities, is today calling on the British public to volunteer for an ‘hour per week’ or more to see us through the difficult COVID winter.

Months on from the start of the pandemic and the groundswell of volunteer support that followed, the charity is urging people to pull together and support one another again by returning to volunteering or stepping forward for the first time.

The call comes on the back of research which finds that more than 4.9 million *(1) over 50s, many with health conditions and without family nearby, say they would benefit from volunteer help this winter, with more than half (54%) worried about a second COVID peak.

Simple tasks such as helping with shopping, food deliveries, prescription collections and making friendly phone calls to at-risk individuals can help vulnerable people cope better through the crisis.

"Lots of people have struggled since the start of this crisis, but it’s only going to get harder. If you can spare an hour a week to volunteer – please do. Volunteering can make a huge difference to someone’s life."

Broadcaster, Phillip Schofield who is backing the campaign
Celebrities have joined Phillip in supporting the campaign including Felicity Kendal, Elaine Paige and Wayne Sleep.

Thousands of volunteers will be required to assist and protect the NHS by supporting the most vul-nerable patients to stay safe and well. The NHS Volunteer Responders scheme in England has continued to run throughout the summer since its launch in April and is now seeing an increase in requests for help from the public and the NHS. Hundreds of thousands of small acts of kindness have so far been delivered through this flexible, app-based volunteering scheme. Recruitment is now open in many parts of England where there is high demand. Members of the public can apply at

At the heart of local communities, the work of Mutual Aid Groups will prove vital again, alongside a wide range of local and national charities including Royal Voluntary Service. Supporting neighbours and friends informally will also be essential.

Volunteers can help in the community or volunteer from home and when choosing which to do, should always keep in mind their own level of risk, and follow guidance on volunteering safely. The
public can explore a range of volunteering opportunities by visiting the Hour of Need campaign on the Royal Voluntary Service website.

"Britain faces a very difficult winter, with coronavirus cases rising and restrictions tightening, we must expect there will be many vulnerable people needing volunteer support over the coming months. People are already worn down by the virus and are desperate for normality but we must steel ourselves to come together again to support the most vulnerable. In April the community responded quickly and brilliantly but we need that support to step forward once again. We are today making an urgent appeal, please support the COVID response by volunteering. If you can offer an hour a week or, perhaps even more, then please do come forward.

We believe everyone has something to offer, whether it’s providing someone with company over the telephone, supporting a patient after hospital, volunteering your time at a food bank or helping out at your high-street charity shop. The need for volunteers will be bigger than ever this winter."

Chief executive of Royal Voluntary Service, Catherine Johnstone CBE
As well as supporting the community and the NHS, volunteering has benefits for volunteers themselves. Royal Voluntary Service research has highlighted how it supports happiness, reduces stress, fosters social connections, builds skills and offers a valuable sense of purpose.

Royal Voluntary Service is one of Britain’s largest volunteering charities with volunteers supporting the NHS and thousands of vulnerable people in the community. During the crisis the charity has delivered the NHS Volunteer Responders programme for NHS England enabled by the GoodSAM app with 360,000 active volunteers responding to over 900,000 requests for support so far. The charity has also worked in local communities through the crisis running home libraries, companionship support, home from hospital services and patient transport. Its new Virtual Village Hall provides live classes and tutorials on Facebook to promote well-being and keep people active and occupied through the pandemic.

*(1) - According to ONS, there are 24,806,721 people aged 50 and over (37.3% of the total population) (August 2019). 20% of 24,806,721 = 4,961,344

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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