Skills for Care

Volunteer Responders programme supports adult social care providers

17 Nov 2023

3 min read

Skills for Care

  • Good news story

This #GoodNewsFriday we hear about how the Volunteer Responders Programme is supporting social care.

The Volunteer Responders programme provides adult social care providers with appropriately checked volunteers to support people in receipt of care.

Volunteers can support with friendly phone calls and by picking up and delivering prescriptions and shopping.

Volunteer Responders is a flexible volunteering programme supporting adult social care and the NHS in England.

This programme is built on a digital platform and links an available pool of volunteers to local live tasks through the GoodSAM app.

It’s a quick and simple process to book a volunteer and you can sign up as a referrer in moments.

Local authorities have always been able to refer people in receipt of a care package to the programme. Now Volunteer Responders are available to help adult social care providers across all eligible residential and domiciliary settings.

The programme makes it easier for people to volunteer and simpler for care providers to access support.

Volunteers won’t undertake any staff duties, but will complement the existing workforce, allowing care and health staff to focus on providing quality care to those who need it most.


Andrew’s experience as a volunteer

Andrew Marks volunteers with Volunteer Responders, giving his time to support the mental health and wellbeing of others. Andrew's role involves making friendly phone calls to people who may be lonely or isolated. Since the programme’s inception in 2020, care colleagues have been referring individuals to receive support from Andrew and his fellow volunteers.

Andrew says:

Helping others was something ingrained in me at a young age, growing up it was something you always did without being asked. When the first call for Volunteer Responders came, at the start of the pandemic, I didn’t hesitate to put my name down, just like when I was younger it was something I didn’t need to be asked or think twice about. As a volunteer, you get to speak with people from all walks of life and hear some great life stories about where they have been and what they have achieved. I’ve been fortunate to have had some really great conversations and even shared a good laugh along the way. It’s a real privilege to learn people’s stories. I always find it a great honour when they share personal stories with me, things they might normally only tell family members. It’s a humbling experience to be trusted with these cherished memories and reflections.

Andrew's support extends to individuals receiving care, whether in their own homes or care facilities. He takes pride in offering reassurance and understands the value of lifting the spirits of those he chats with.

He says:

I’m always glad and hopeful that when the call comes to an end, I’ve been able to reassure them and give them a little extra boost, reminding them they are not forgotten. It can mean a lot, especially for those who are isolated or living in care without family or friends nearby. The kind ‘thank you for calling’, makes it all the more worthwhile. It’s a great feeling knowing you have helped make someone’s day just that little bit brighter.

David’s experience being supported by volunteers

David Fielden from Somerset has been facing the challenges of living with a chronic illness that has left him isolated and housebound. As his condition progressed, David found himself lacking social interaction and struggling with feelings of loneliness. David receives regular phone calls as part of the programme, for David, these calls are a lifeline that brighten his day and provide him with much-needed socialisation.

David says:

I can't express how grateful I am for the volunteer phone calls I receive. Being largely housebound and living with a chronic illness can make you feel so isolated, and it's easy to fall into a state of loneliness. These phone calls have truly become the high point of my day. I look forward to every call, all the volunteers who reach out to me are amazing individuals. Having someone on the other end of the line to speak to makes such a difference. Without these calls, my days would be much more difficult and lonelier. I am forever grateful to the volunteers who selflessly give their time to make a difference in the lives of others.

Supporting the social care sector

Caroline Callaghan, who is currently utilising Volunteer Responders services in her role at Hartlepool Borough Council, said:

Check in and Chat is so beneficial because even a quick phone conversation can be a real boost, knowing that there is a person on the other end of the phone who wants to talk and listen to you, is brilliant for a person’s wellbeing. It’s so quick and easy to make a Volunteer Responders referral, I regularly remind our team that the programme is there for us to refer in to, and to support the people we’re working with. I have also recommended Volunteer Responders to colleagues in adult social care teams, as we all work with a common aim, and the programme is one tool we can use to help achieve that. I know that Community Response and Pick Up and Deliver services will also make a big difference to the lives of people we work with.

Similarly, Samantha Aylott, Specialist Advisor for Adult Social Care at Essex County Council, regularly uses the Volunteer Responder programme to organise volunteer Check in and Chat calls for people as part of their social care package.

Samantha says: 

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.

Sam Ward OBE, Deputy CEO of Royal Voluntary Service said:

The NHS and Care Volunteer Responders programme is making it easier for care professionals to request the help of volunteers. Across England, volunteers are supporting vulnerable and isolated people with friendly and encouraging phone calls, grocery and essential shopping delivery, and the transport of medical equipment. These activities aim to support care colleagues and the health and wellbeing of people in receipt of social care.

Find out more or make a referral by visiting the website or call the support team on 0808 196 3382.

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