Health secretary announces plans to recruit 'army of volunteers' during coronavirus outbreak

Health secretary announces plans to recruit 'army of volunteers' during coronavirus outbreak

by Henry James (March 2020)

PLANS have been put in place by the health secretary, Matt Hancock, to recruit a 250,000 strong volunteer force to assist the NHS during the UK’s coronavirus outbreak.

To do this they need an 'army' of volunteers who can support the 1.5m people in England who are at most risk from the virus to stay well.

Doctors, nurses and other professionals will be able to refer people in to NHS Volunteer Responders and be confident that they have been matched with a reliable, named volunteer.

Matt Hancock said: “We are seeking a quarter of a million volunteers, people in good health to help the NHS, for shopping for the delivery of medicines and to support those who are shielding to protect their own health.”

People can help by signing up for one or more of the tasks listed below. Once they have registered and checks are complete they will be provided a log-in to the GoodSAM Responder app. Switch the app to 'on duty', and people will see live and local volunteer tasks to pick from nearby.

This programme enables volunteers to provide care or to help a vulnerable person, which is permitted under the new rules announced by the Government on March 23. Volunteers may be asked to show the active task they are responding to if asked.

Volunteers must be 18 or over, and fit and well with no symptoms. Those in higher-risk groups (including those over 70, those who are pregnant or with underlying medical conditions) will be able to offer support by telephone.

The people behind the group said, “Your safety is our priority”. The majority of tasks can be undertaken while social distancing and volunteers will receive guidance through their 'getting started pack'. If people do become ill, they can pause their volunteering.

Patient transport drivers will require an enhanced DBS check and will receive guidance to do this role safely, also included within the 'getting started pack'

Here are the ways people can offer support:

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.

Volunteers can register immediately at

Search for news

Latest News