Article updated 3 November 2020
The NHS Volunteers scheme was set up by the government early on in the pandemic to ensure shielding people could get essentials such as food or medicines, delivered by identity-checked volunteers.
It is a complementary service to local voluntary schemes, such as the charities who have worked with the council's One Reading Community Hub in our town.
As we head into 'Lockdown 2' from November 5, 2020, NHS Volunteers will still be available, until at least March 2021, for:
- You have ever been advised to shield by a health professional
- You are vulnerable for another reason, (for instance, due to disability, pregnancy, aged over 70, you have a long-term condition such as Parkinson's or epilepsy, or are vulnerable due to a mental health condition)
- You have caring responsibilities
- You are self-isolating because you have been diagnosed with COVID-19 or have symptoms, or you’ve been in contact with someone who has
- You have been instructed to self-isolate by the Test and Trace service, because you’ve been near someone infected
- You are self-isolating ahead of planned hospital care
- You have been instructed to self-isolate following entry into the country
- Frontline health and care workers.
Types of help on offer
The scheme offers six different types of volunteer:
- Community Response Volunteer: Collecting shopping, medication or other essential supplies for someone who is self-isolating/vulnerable, and delivering these supplies to their home.
- Community Response Plus Volunteer: Collect and delivering shopping, medication or other essential supplies for patients with cognitive impairments and or significant vulnerabilities who are shielding.
- Patient Transport Volunteer: Providing transport to patients who are medically fit for discharge, as well as taking patients to their essential appointments.
- NHS Transport Volunteer: 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: Providing short-term telephone support to individuals who are at risk of loneliness as a consequence of self-isolation
- Check In and Chat Plus Volunteer: Providing regular check-in telephone support over 10 weeks or more to an individual at risk of loneliness as a consequence of self-isolation.