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Building on the success of the NHS Volunteer Responders programme during the pandemic, the government expanded the scheme into adult social care – forming a joint NHS and Care Volunteer Responders programme. Across England, care providers can now ask volunteers to help people in a range of care settings. Volunteers are available to support people receiving care through chat services and delivery roles.

While volunteers are not a replacement for highly valued paid staff, there is no doubt that care teams reap the benefits of their support. Volunteer Responders are freeing up valuable time for care colleagues and helping to support the health and wellbeing of those in receipt of care.

Research conducted by Royal Voluntary Service found that volunteer support improved and enriched people’s experiences of care in care home settings. The evidence highlighted benefits for care recipients, including improved mood, enhanced cognitive functions, and general improvements in care service quality.

The NHS and Care Volunteer Responders programme is eager to support the care sector and is encouraging professionals to make full use of the programme. These services are free to use with no cost incurred by the provider.

What the programme offers

  • A pool of volunteers readily available
  • Extra volunteer capacity to support local activities related to health and care
  • A range of volunteer roles to meet needs locally
  • Volunteering support 7 days a week, underpinned by wrap-around support and assurance
  • Safeguarding, problem solving teams and helplines running 8am-8pm
  • Volunteers are ID checked, have role guidance, hold DBS checks when required and their expenses are paid by the programme
  • A diverse volunteer team, representative of the communities they support
  • Assurance checks for new providers outside the NHS and local authorities
  • An evolving programme, adapting to changing needs, complementary to existing scheme


Volunteer Services available now

  • Check In and Chat: Telephone support to people who need a chat and some encouragement to improve their mental health and wellbeing. This service is available for up to 18 weeks, but the referrer can make a repeat referral after the first period ends.
  • Check In and Chat Plus: Regular telephone calls – three calls a week over a six-week period from the same volunteer – for people who would benefit or prefer to speak to the same volunteer.
  • Community Response: Collection and delivery of essential shopping and prescriptions. This service is available for a one off or for up to six weeks.
  • Pick-Up and Deliver: Volunteers to transport medication or small items of medical equipment to people’s homes and care homes, from NHS sites or between sites.

The NHS and Care Volunteer Responders programme is available seven days a week and comes with comprehensive support and assurance. There is a helpline, safeguarding team and problem-solving team available between 8am – 8pm every day. Regional Relationship Managers are available in each region to answer questions about the programme, the volunteer support available and how to make a referral.

You can learn more about this in the recording below



Samantha Aylott, Specialist Advisor for Adult Social Care at Essex County Council

“It’s immensely helpful to be able to offer people emotional wellbeing support and the opportunity to have a friendly phone call as part of their care package. Having someone to chat to can mean a lot to the adults we work with; it’s about knowing someone cares and is interested in them.

“I would recommend the programme to other social care providers, it’s quick and easy to use.”

Find out more

To find out more about the programme, and the support Volunteer Responders can provide, contact your Regional Relationship Manager:

East of England
Leanne Jenkins
email: leanne.jenkins@royalvoluntaryservice.org.uk

Sarah Smith
email: sarah.a.smith@royalvoluntaryservice.org.uk

East Midlands
Ellen Woodward
email: ellen.woodward@royalvoluntaryservice.org.uk

West Midlands
Jen Williams
email: jen.williams@royalvoluntaryservice.org.uk

North East & Yorkshire
Kerry Evans
email: kerry.evans@royalvoluntaryservice.org.uk

North West
Liam Ryan
email: liam.ryan@royalvoluntaryservice.org.uk

South East
email: rrm@royalvoluntaryservice.org.uk

South West
Angela Sims
email: angela.sims@royalvoluntaryservice.org.uk

If you would like to make a referral call 0808 196 3382 and speak to our contact centre, or
visit nhscarevolunteerresponders.org/referral for more information