By Rafi Mauro-Benady
A charity which provides volunteers to assist over-stretched public services is pleading for more people to sign up across two boroughs.
Royal Voluntary Service (RVS) is a charity partnered with NHS England to deliver the NHS Volunteer Responders programme, and is looking for more recruits in Lambeth and Lewisham to help the health service through the winter months.
The NHS Volunteer Responders programme was launched in April and will be in place until at least March next year.
It works by volunteers carrying out non-clinical tasks such as delivering shopping or medication, providing transport to medical appointments and providing a telephone chat service to help combat loneliness.
There are more than 3,000 volunteers in Lambeth and just under 2.000 in Lewisham who have collectively completed 12,738 tasks.
But as people have started returning to work from furlough, some of the original volunteers are no longer able to give as much of their time. Meanwhile, requests for support are rising.
Train driver Anis Ali, 36, from Morden, is a check in and chat volunteer, providing telephone support to those who are self-isolating or who have limited contact with others during lockdown.
He said: “We take so many things for granted. Some people don’t have anyone at all they can talk to and it’s such a difficult time for people.
“I was desperate to do something to help and I will continue to do my bit for as long as I am needed.
“Having the chance to get to know people in my community and support the NHS at this difficult time has been the best opportunity I’ve ever had and I would love to encourage other people to volunteer as I have.”
Anyone wanting to apply can do so via the NHS Volunteer Responders website here.
Pictured top: Train driver, and volunteer, Anis Ali
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