Meet Scarborough's NHS Volunteers helping during the coronavirus outbreak

Within 24 hours of the government asking for people to sign up to an NHS volunteer scheme, 405,000 people applied.

By Corinne Macdonald
Thursday, 2nd April 2020, 10:12 am
Updated Thursday, 2nd April 2020, 2:47 pm

Secretary of State for Health & Social Care Matt Hancock initially asked for 250,000 people to help bolster the NHS’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic by supporting the 1.5 million people who are at most risk from coronavirus, but registration has now been temporarily paused to allow time to process the 750,000 applicants received so far.

In these uncertain times it’s important to highlight the positives, and we spoke to five people from Scarborough who have all signed up to help the vulnerable in our community.

Lee Walker is a self-employed painter and decorator.

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Three of Scarborough's NHS Volunteers.

In the current circumstances he can’t work and wanted to put his time to good use.

“I volunteered just to do my bit, just to help those people who are isolated,” Lee said.

“I can take a bit of pressure off the NHS and feel like I’m doing something for the community.”

Like many people in the town, Lee has plenty to keep him busy with home schooling two children, but felt he had to offer his support.

Ant Taylor.

He added: “It’s a scary time, we’re keeping ourselves safe and just doing what we can to help.”

Wendy Blake has been a hairdresser in Scarborough since she was 16 but now, like Lee, finds herself unable to work.

She has a lot of elderly clients and thinking of them on their own prompted her to sign up as a volunteer to help those who have no-one else.

Wendy said: “I have already been ringing my regulars, some of them I’ve been doing their hair for years and they’re like family.

Wendy Blake. Picture: JPI Media/ Richard Ponter

“It would be like leaving my mother on her own.

“This is the time that the elderly and vulnerable need our help.

“A lot of people are on their own which is quite scary. It must be awful and I just wanted to do what I can.”

Jane Mynard is working from home but felt she had a lot of time on her hands which could be used to help people.

Jo Hampshire.

She said: “It is a scary time but I’m healthy and ok so that’s the main thing.

“I think it’s making us all take stock of the important things in life and I want to help my community.”

Despite the fact they are still at work as key workers, Jo Hampshire and Ant Taylor have also signed up to help when they can.

Jo is assistant headteacher at Woodlands Academy and said volunteering was an obvious choice for her.

She explained: “I’m leaving for work anyway so [volunteering] can so easily be built into my working day.

“I’m not going to be adding to non-essential journeys.”

She added: “It’s incredible how many people have signed up. It just goes to show that when push comes to shove people do want to help.

“I hope that when we come out of this that message will endure.”

Ant is also a key worker as he works in the radiology department at Scarborough Hospital booking appointments.

He has seen at first hand the pressure the NHS is under.

Ant said: “Everybody just needs a bit of a helping hand at the moment.

“I wanted something to do in these uncertain times to get me out of the house and do some good.

“Now people need to stay at home and protect us up here in the NHS. I can’t stress that enough."

York Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust have thanked the volunteers in the community.

A spokeswoman said: “We’ve been impressed by the public’s response to this crisis, and the number of people who are volunteering their time to help support vulnerable people in our communities so that they can stay at home and stay safe.

“Our thanks go to them for their support.”