Britons have responded to the government’s call for volunteers to help support the vulnerable during the coronavirus epidemic, with 405,000 people coming forward so far.
Speaking during the government’s daily press coronavirus conference, Prime Minister Boris Johnson praised the public for having responded to the call for volunteers made by health secretary Matt Hancock on Tuesday afternoon so enthusiastically. Revealing the 405,000 volunteers meant there were already as many people giving up their time to help the NHS deal with the surge in demand caused by the coronavirus pandemic as the entire population of the city of Coventry, the PM outlined the types of duties those involved could expect.
Boris Johnson told the nation:
I want to offer a special thank you to everyone who has now volunteered to help the NHS. When we launched the appeal last night, we hoped to get 250,000 volunteers over a few days. But I can tell you that in just 24 hours, 405,000 people have responded to the call. They will be driving medicines from pharmacies to patients, they will be bringing patients home from hospital. Very importantly, they will be making regular phone calls to check on and support people who are staying on their own at home.
And they will be absolutely crucial in the fight against this virus. That is already in one day as many volunteers as the population of Coventry. And so to all of you, and to all the former NHS staff who are coming back now into the service, I say thank you on behalf of the entire country.
Dare say the work involved may be a little different this time around pic.twitter.com/dbEtaVhRGj
— Oliver JJ Lane (@oliver_lane) March 24, 2020
The 405,000 figure is up from 170,000 announced just hours before.
The volunteer effort will be run by the Royal Voluntary Service and is being coordinated through the Good SAM app. Those who sign up will primarily be tasked with providing assistance to the estimate 1.5 million people who are considered to be at high risk and have been told by the government to self-isolate.
Catherine Johnstone, the chief executive of the Royal Voluntary Service, compared the effort to that of the Second World War when a million women joined the organisation, which was then known as the Women’s Voluntary Service.
“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,” she said per The Times.
Volunteers will help deliver medicine to self-isolating patients, drive them to their hospital appointments, and phone them to check on their welfare.
The NHS director of primary care, Nikki Kanani, said that the coronavirus is the “the biggest challenge” the nation’s health service has ever faced, calling on the healthy to “do their bit” during the coronavirus outbreak.
“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,” she said.
Your NHS Needs YOU: Govt Calls for Army of 250,000 Volunteers https://t.co/FRRhOsnpMp
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) March 24, 2020