Surrey Woman Who Lost Job Over Illness Finds ‘Purpose’ Volunteering For NHS After It Nursed Her To Health
A woman who had to give up work due to illness found a sense of purpose by volunteering for the NHS after the service nursed her back to health.
Healthcare workers in the UK and across the globe have been inundated as a result of the ongoing outbreak, and in an effort to take some of the pressure off those on the frontlines the NHS called for members of the public to offer their help.
On March 24, the health service announced it was looking for up to 250,000 volunteers to help carry out simple, non-medical tasks for up to 1.5 million people who have been asked to shield themselves because of underlying health conditions.
Within the first day, more than 405,000 people signed up, including 29-year-old Millie Redrup from Surrey.
Millie had to give up her job working with the council last year when she fell ill with stomach issues. She spent months in and out of hospital, during which time she was well looked after by the NHS and its ‘truly wonderful’ staff.
Millie is also grateful to the NHS for helping her grandfather tackle and overcome cancer, and even before the recent outbreak she knew she wanted to work for the NHS ‘to give something back’.
She recently interviewed with the service, and when the call for volunteers went out she immediately signed up with the desire to help in ‘any way possible’. As Millie isn’t a key worker, she knew volunteering was ‘the next best thing’.
Like many people across the country, Millie knows firsthand what it means to care for people in these uncertain times. She and her fiancé are currently running errands and going shopping for Millie’s nan and granddad, who have been self-isolating for the past month, as well as her mother, a key worker who is self-isolating after experiencing symptoms.
Through volunteering, Millie will extend her responsibilities to care for strangers as well as her family. She signed up as a ‘Check In and Chat’ volunteer, while her fiancé signed up as an NHS Transport Volunteer who will help by delivering medicines.
Volunteers receive alerts from vulnerable people through the GoodSAM app, run by the Royal Voluntary Service, so after receiving an alert Millie is able to call the person to check in to see how they are coping.
Speaking about the process and why it is important, Millie told UNILAD:
On the app, you sign in as ‘on duty’ and then you receive alerts during the day from people that need your help.
You can go on duty for however many hours a day you like and there is no pressure to accept calls if you cannot in that moment. It’s really flexible, I would recommend it to anyone.
It’s very important that during a time like this, people have someone to talk to. Living alone especially can be quite challenging during this time, so this service is fantastic.
If [the vulnerable person] is struggling to get food or medication then I can contact support so that a different volunteer with access to transport can drop what they need.
The service has said that they can pay for expenses, but since I am on an unlimited data and calls phone contract it’s not something they need to worry about with me. I’m just happy to donate my time, it’s the least I can do.
The NHS has provided Check In and Chat volunteers with a list of questions to ask to keep conversations going, and informed them of how to act appropriately and keep information confidential to ensure vulnerable people have a positive experience.
Five days after announcing its call for volunteers, the NHS temporarily paused its sign-up scheme to process the initial influx of applications, which quickly rose to an incredible 750,000.
After hearing how many people signed up to volunteer, Millie said she felt ‘proud to be British’. She acknowledged that young people like herself ‘often get a lot of unfair criticism’, whether it’s to do with work ethic, views or priorities, but pointed out ‘it just goes to show that during a crisis, there are so many kind people willing to help’.
Just in the streets surrounding her own home, Millie believes there around 20 volunteers. The app shows other helpers in the area, and she says the sight is ‘just amazing’.
She told UNILAD:
A time like this really does bring out the best in people.
I think that unless you are a key worker during this time, you feel pretty useless sitting at home watching it all happening, so I’m really happy that I am now able to be a part of the service and helping our community.
It gives you a purpose and there’s no better feeling than helping and being there for someone during a crisis.
Millie acknowledged that while the volunteers are brilliant, we would be nowhere without the NHS itself. She stressed the need to support the service, and pointed out how lucky we are to have it in the UK.
The NHS is under huge pressure and strain right now. I cannot imagine how heartbreaking and tough it is for the staff dealing with what’s happening.
I think that if anyone does have the time to volunteer their time, they should, because it makes a huge difference. Whether it’s delivering medicine, taking people to hospital or just calling someone to check in on them, we must all do our part if we can.
I think every single person [in the UK] can say that the NHS has helped them in some way throughout their life. They need us now, so it’s the least we can do.
Millie admitted she doesn’t think ‘there is ever enough we can do or say to [thank] the NHS’, but encouraged everyone who is able to help where they can, adding ‘I think at a time like this, everyone realises just how important the NHS is’.
As well as Check In and Chat and Transport Volunteers, there are Community Response Volunteers, who collect shopping, medication or other essential supplies for someone who is self-isolating, and Patient Transport Volunteers, who provide transport to patients who are medically fit for discharge.
Though the sign-up for volunteers is paused at the time of writing, April 8, you can keep an eye out for further information on the GoodSAM website here.
Even if you are unable to sign up as a volunteer, there are a number of things you can do to help others and show your support for the NHS at this tough time, whether it’s making a monetary donation to the NHS charities urgent appeal, or simply donating your time by reaching out to those who might be struggling with isolation and offering to have a chat, run some errands, or pick up some shopping.
Even the smallest acts of kindness go a long way, and doing your bit to keep yourself and others healthy will go a long way to helping the NHS at this time.
It’s okay to not panic about everything going on in the world right now. LADbible and UNILAD’s aim with our campaign, Cutting Through, is to provide our community with facts and stories from the people who are either qualified to comment or have experienced first-hand the situation we’re facing. For more information from the World Health Organization, click here.