When I learned that Watford General needed additional volunteers to support patients and staff during this time of increased pressure I decided in an instant that I would sign-up. I have always been in awe of our brave NHS and over the past few weeks, they have truly been the front line against this invisible enemy. As the MP I have been working every hour I can to support our amazing NHS, but I also know first-hand that defeating the invisible enemy of COVID-19 requires a national effort, and everyone can have a role to play.
As I say at the end of almost every public message, the most effective thing we can do as individuals is to stay at home, protect the NHS and save lives. But I have also seen the importance of volunteering to alleviate pressure on the NHS too. Unlike some of my Parliamentary colleagues, I am no medical expert or former nurse or doctor, but I found out that volunteering at the hospital doesn’t require this. Volunteers are asked to do some of the simple background tasks such as helping patients to call their families and friends, getting an extra blanket if someone is cold, offering to accompany a patient on a short walk, making drinks for staff, taking food round for staff, offering to wipe down surfaces and restocking supplies.
Some people have asked how I have the time to volunteer. It is a fair question as I am already working every hour I can to help constituents. In fact, over the past few weeks my team and I have personally dealt with over 1,100 cases, but I feel it is important to make the time. Our NHS team are working long shifts and saving lives. So if it means I get a few hours less sleep one or two days a week, I can deal with that. Plus, as I am not currently commuting into Parliament, I save some time there too (although that is usually taken up with constituency work too).
Of course, the single most important thing we can all do to help our NHS is to follow the government guidelines. So if you cannot volunteer, do not feel like you aren’t doing your bit. Just by staying at home, you are already saving lives.
To become a volunteer at Watford General, you must be aged 16 or older, willing to undertake regular DBS checks, confident to volunteer independently (within reason and capability) and able to commit to a regular shift of 3 hours per week.
Once you are signed up as a volunteer, you will be entitled to park for free at Watford General. You will also be identified as a key worker so your children will be able to attend school.
For further information or to request an application pack, please contact the Voluntary Services Team; firstname.lastname@example.org, 01923 217307