Coronavirus: FM calls out for volunteers to help the NHS

A Scottish Government drive to build a new team of 'community service volunteers' launches on Monday.

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First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has issued a call for volunteers to help Scotland’s NHS and aid the country’s wider response to the coronavirus pandemic.

She said a new Scottish Government volunteer drive would launch on Monday to allow people who are able contribute to the national effort “in a way which makes a real difference within your community”.

Information on the scheme will be available at readyscotland.org and explain to people how to sign up to become a “community service volunteers”.

This new team of volunteers will be coordinated across Scotland by the charity Red Cross, the FM said.

It comes as Covid-19 patient deaths in Scotland rose by one to 41 on Sunday, while there have been 139 more confirmed cases in the past 24 hours, taking the country’s total to 1384.

Officials have repeatedly stressed that the figures are believed to be significant underestimates.

The volunteer scheme in Scotland comes after UK health secretary Matt Hancock launched a campaign to initially recruit an “army” of 250,000 volunteers in England – with more than 700,000 people having already signed up.

Speaking at a press briefing at St Andrew’s House on Sunday, Sturgeon said: “As ever, the best way to support the NHS is for all of us to follow the rules and stay at home as much as possible.

“But I know there are many people who are currently fit and healthy and perhaps no longer, for the time being, at work or at university and are looking for other ways to help.

“Over the past week the Scottish Government has been working with a number of partners to identify the best way to tap into and utilise that desire to help.

“We wanted to take a bit of time to get this right so that when people are signing up to be volunteers we know that offer can be acted upon and utilised as quickly as possible.

“So, tomorrow I can give advance notice that we’ll be launching a new campaign called Scotland Cares which will encourage people to volunteer if they are in a position to do so and make it easier for them to register their interest in doing so.”

The campaign will direct returning health and care service workers to arrangements already in place in NHS Scotland for returning staff.

It will also provide information on existing volunteering opportunities with charities.

The FM added: “If you want to volunteer more generally to help the NHS or the wider response effort, the site will direct you to information about becoming a community reserve volunteer.”

She continued: “This means that people who are able to will be able to contribute in a way which makes a real difference within your community, and it will help people help each other as we all seek to get through this together.

“The wider campaign which will launch on TV and radio from tomorrow will also emphasise the importance of lending a hand – a clean hand, I should say – to neighbours and family.

“And importantly, it will offer advice on how to do that safely.”