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Charity calls for 25,000 volunteers to provide NHS support

The Royal Voluntary Service provides companionship for patients in hospitals.

A leading national charity is calling for 25,000 more volunteers to provide support for the NHS, as the service marks its 75th anniversary.

The Royal Voluntary Service is aiming to recruit more people for roles in hospital settings and the community, both immediately and over the coming months, to meet the needs of the most vulnerable.

It helps deliver the NHS and Care Volunteers Responders programme on behalf of NHS England, which provides short-term support to people in need through shopping and prescriptions deliveries, friendly phone calls and transporting medical supplies.

The organisation has provided vital, responsive services in public health, social care and wellbeing to aid the NHS since its inception in 1948.

Catherine Johnstone, chief executive of the Royal Voluntary Service, said: “As we mark 75 years of the NHS, we want to thank all the extraordinary volunteers who have supported the NHS since it began. Many of them have volunteered with Royal Voluntary Service and they have made a huge difference.

“And what better way to celebrate the NHS’s 75th birthday than by becoming part of its incredible volunteer team. Volunteering is a wonderful two-way experience that brings so much joy.”

The Royal Voluntary Service originally helped civilians during the Second World War after it was founded as the Women’s Voluntary Service in 1938.

Its volunteers in hospitals now provide patient companionship and transport, on-ward exercise sessions, and settlement support following a stay in hospital.

Physical activity classes, dining clubs and social groups are also run by volunteers in local communities in an effort to bring people together.

Elaine Paige, a Royal Voluntary Service ambassador, said she witnessed the “tremendous impact” volunteers had on patients whilst helping out with hospital trolleys.

She added: “By simply offering a listening ear, volunteers provide patients with a sense of comfort and companionship during their hospital stay, which can often be a difficult time.”

The Royal Voluntary Service played a critical role in the Covid-19 pandemic, when it recruited responders to help those shielding and support the vaccination drive.

Ahead of the coronation of the King in May, the charity launched the Coronation Champions Awards with Queen Camilla, who is a patron, to celebrate the extraordinary efforts of 500 volunteers across the country.

It was also a leading partner in The Big Help Out volunteering drive after the coronation, which saw Prime Minister Rishi Sunak serve lunch at a community centre in Hertfordshire and the Prince and Princess of Wales help to renovate a Scout hut with their three children in Berkshire.

Those interested in signing up for volunteering can find opportunities opportunities at www.royalvoluntaryservice.org.uk.

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