People in Falkirk district can get involved in coronavirus volunteers campaign

A new campaign has been launched to make it easier for people to volunteer during the coronavirus pandemic.

By Kirsty Paterson
Monday, 30th March 2020, 1:32 pm
Updated Monday, 30th March 2020, 2:39 pm

While the NHS still says the most important way for the public to help is to stay at home, people who are healthy and not at risk can volunteer to provide practical or emotional help to those most in need.

Many community groups have already sprung into action to make sure that food and other essentials reach the most vulnerable - but this initiative aims to bring together individuals who want to help, community groups, charities, local authorities and the NHS.

In Forth Valley, the NHS has said it is not looking for volunteers yet, but as the situation changes rapidly, it is aware that might change.

All ages took part in the Clap for Carers initiative last week

This will mean it have will have a national database of people who are able to volunteer quickly.

Those wanting to volunteer to support their communities have three options - help the NHS, help social care services or volunteer with a charity or community group,

All of these are signposted from the Ready Scotland website:

The British Red Cross will coordinate NHS and care volunteers while Volunteer Scotland will direct people looking to help a charity or community group.

Launching the campaign, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “We know there are a huge number of people who are already volunteering and many more with a desire to help their communities, public services and voluntary organisations. And for that we are incredibly grateful.

“This site means that those who are able to can contribute in a way which makes a real difference. It helps people to help each other, as we all get through this together.”

Shirley-Anne Somerville, cabinet secretary for social security and older people, said: “By providing this national portal we will be able to connect people to where their contribution is most needed in their local community, ensuring everyone can play their part in helping Scotland come through this pandemic."

However, Dr Graham Foster, director of Public Health for Forth Valley NHS, says people should not worry if they can't volunteer to help.

He said: “People are asking what they can do to help and that’s great – but the very best way you can help just now is staying at home.”

“The biggest thing you can do to support the NHS staff is just stay at home and follow the advice – that will reduce the pressure on GP surgeries and on the acute hospital.

“We all want to thank the NHS staff for their work, but if we don’t stay at home and we allow the virus to spread then their hard work will all have been for nothing.”

This afternoon, MP John McNally added his support to the campaign, saying: "Please have a look at this website and give your help if you are able. There are even volunteering opportunities you can do from home that will make a lot of difference at this difficult time. Thanks to everyone already helping their fellow citizens across our constituency."

In line with Scotland’s current stay at home rules the public can only volunteer to carry out tasks which involve leaving their home, once a day, if you are not required to be isolating and are not in any risk categories.

Those who cannot leave their homes can still sign up to provide telephone support.

The website www.ReadyScotland.org is being constantly updated and provides advice on volunteering safely and the organisations to register an interest with such as Volunteer Scotland and the Red Cross.

Businesses who can offer support should email [email protected]