Members of the public who signed up to be NHS volunteers during the coronavirus crisis are expected to start this week.
Details of what tasks they will be allocated to help support our frontline doctors and nurses will be released in the coming days.
More than 750,000 people signed up, some two weeks ago, to join the “volunteer army” – three times the government’s original target – to help relieve pressure on the NHS.
They will support 2.5 million people who are considered at risk.
One of the thousands to sign up include Wykham Park’s Assistant Principal Stacey Walsh. She will continue to teach and volunteer in her spare time.
She appeared on BBC Breakfast, with presenters Louise Minchin and Dan Walker, to reveal her very personal reason for stepping forward to help.
Asked how she was juggling work with volunteering, she told the pair: ”I’m really lucky that our Principal at Wykham Park has been accommodating. We are physically in the building on a rota basis. First and foremost I am a teacher and I’m at work today as you can see. But when i’m not here, I can put the alerts on to be available for the NHS.
”When I was 11, I was hospitalised with quite a serious lung issue and before that I spent my life on medication, I couldn’t get involved in physical activity, I had to sit out of PE at school. Mt life would have been very different if it hadn’t been for the amazing doctors and nurses at the Birmingham Children’s who just changed my life.
“I’ve said I’ll do whatever’s needed so whether that’s driving people to appointments, telephone conversations, just waiting really to see what will come through. When I’m at work I have the alerts turned off and then when I leave work I turn the alerts back on.
”I’m a very social person so being able to provide people who are isolated with support over the telephone – that’s something that I really am looking forward to.
“It’s really important as public sector workers we stand alongside the NHS. There is a unity between us so I’m really happy that I can help.”
The volunteers may have to deliver food and medicines, drive patients to appointments and phone the isolated.
The process is being managed through a mobile app called GoodSam, where health professionals, pharmacists, and local authorities can upload requests for help from Tuesday.
Thousands of approved volunteers can then pick which tasks they want to complete in their local area.
Volunteers switch their app to “on duty” to show when they are available.
Due to the huge response, the group of vulnerable people they will support in England was expanded from 1.5 million to 2.5 million.
The government scheme initially had a target of recruiting 250,000 helpers. Recruitment was temporarily paused on 29 March to process the initial applications.
The Royal Voluntary Service, the charity helping co-ordinate the scheme, will now have completed checks on the applications.
Catherine Johnstone, chief executive of the Royal Voluntary Service, said it had been “a mammoth effort” to get the scheme up and running but it was now “open for business”.
She said: “It’s determined grit that has got us through 750,000 volunteers. To authenticate those under normal circumstances would take months, but we don’t have months. We want to shield the most at-risk patients now.”
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