NHS calls for volunteers as it relaunches Covid booster programme

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The NHS is calling for volunteers as it relaunches the Covid-19 booster programme ahead of the winter months.

The initiative will target those clinically at risk from the virus and people aged 50 and over, a total of 26 million people, NHS England said.

Steward volunteers help at vaccination sites with non-clinical tasks, including moving patients through the process and identifying people who require additional support.

Shifts are flexible across a variety of centres around England, and can be booked with the GoodSAM mobile phone app.

Expenses are covered and no qualifications are required.

Catherine Johnstone CBE, chief executive of the Royal Voluntary Service, said the volunteers are a “huge asset” to the NHS.

“Steward volunteers are a huge asset to the NHS and our communities”, she said.

“We are extremely proud of the tremendous contribution that they have made to keep our nation safe to date.

“Ahead of the upcoming booster rollout, the NHS now needs more people to step forward and join the remarkable team of volunteers in this incredibly rewarding steward volunteering role.

“Any time you can offer at all will make an invaluable difference to the health of the most vulnerable people in your community this winter.”

One NHS volunteer, Chitra Acharya, said it was one of the most rewarding things she has ever done.

“I have particularly enjoyed doing my bit as a steward volunteer to help protect my community from Covid, and I have met some brilliant people along the way,” she said.

“I will be continuing in my role for as long as I’m needed as it’s one of the most rewarding things I have ever done.”

Steve Russell, NHS director of vaccinations and immunisations, said: “The fastest and largest vaccine drive in NHS history would not have been possible without the dedication and determination shown by our hard-working staff and fantastic volunteers over the last 20 months and in order to deliver the autumn booster rollout, we are once again working with the Royal Voluntary Service and asking for volunteers to come forward and help deliver this next phase of the rollout.

“The NHS is rolling out to 26 million people this time round, and so we are asking for your support once again, if you are interested in helping to deliver the autumn booster rollout and protecting the most vulnerable in our society from serious illness this winter then please sign up online at nhsvolunteerresponders.org.uk.”