Coronavirus volunteer programme: how to volunteer for 'Scotland Cares' scheme to help those in need

The Scottish Government have launched a scheme to encourage people to volunteer during the coronavirus pandemic

The Scotland Cares campaign aims to recruit those who are “healthy and not at risk” to provide “practical and emotional” help to those who need it during the coronavirus pandemic.

Though volunteers are being sought, the campaign underlines that often the best way to help is by staying at home.

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What type of volunteers are required?

The Scottish government have called on the help of volunteers to lend practical and emotional support to those who need it (Getty Images)

There are three different volunteering avenues, according to government website Ready Scotland.

The government are seeking former NHS Scotland workers to return to their former places of work. An NHS Scotland statement says that the following people are required to help during the pandemic: “health professionals, biomedical scientists, doctors, midwives, nurses, pharmacists, pharmacy technicians and social service workers to care for them now more than ever.”

In cooperation with the British Red Cross the government are also seeking community reserve volunteers – people wishing to assist the NHS and other local authorities.

Those looking to help other charities or community groups in their area are also sought after.

Where can I sign up?

If you are a former medical professional you can sign up to help at this recruitment page on NHS Scotland’s official website.

Those who wish to sign up as community reserve volunteers can do so at British Red Cross long as they are over 18 and understand that they may be called upon during a crisis.

If you wish to sign up to support local charities and communities you can sign up as a coronavirus volunteer at Volunteer Scotland.

Can I still help if I stay at home?

Yes.

According to Ready Scotland: “you can still help even if you need to stay at home by signing up to provide telephone support. This way you can help keep in contact and provide reassurance to those in need.”

Where can I find out more?

Visit Ready Scotland to find out more about the volunteer drive.

What has Nicola Sturgeon said?

The First Minister said of the campaign: “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.”

Cabinet Secretary for Social Security and Older People Shirley-Anne Somerville added:“The Scottish Government is working closely with local government and a range of partners to co-ordinate the volunteering effort across Scotland.

“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.

“For some, that may involve roles responding to specific needs in health and social care. For others, it may be that we draw on their skills, enthusiasm and energy in the weeks and months to come.

“It is important to remember that the most helpful thing many of us can continue to do to help the NHS is to stay at home and follow all COVID-19 guidance.”

Coronavirus: the facts

What is coronavirus?

COVID-19 is a respiratory illness that can affect lungs and airways. It is caused by a virus called coronavirus.

What caused coronavirus?

The outbreak started in Wuhan in China in December 2019 and it is thought that the virus, like others of its kind, has come from animals.

How is it spread?

As this is such a new illness, experts still aren’t sure how it is spread. But, similar viruses are spread in cough droplets. Therefore, covering your nose and mouth when sneezing and coughing, and disposing of used tissues straight away is advised. Viruses like coronavirus cannot live outside the body for very long.

What are the symptoms?

The NHS states that the symptoms are: a dry cough, high temperature and shortness of breath - but these symptoms do not necessarily mean you have the illness. Look out for flu-like symptoms, such as aches and pains, nasal congestion, runny nose and a sore throat. It’s important to remember that some people may become infected but won’t develop any symptoms or feel unwell.

What precautions can be taken?

Washing your hands with soap and water thoroughly. The NHS also advises to cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze; put used tissues in the bin immediately and try to avoid close contact with people who are unwell. Also avoiding touching eyes, nose and mouth unless your hands are clean.

Government advice

As of Monday 23 March the prime minister has put the UK into lockdown and instructed all citizens to stay at home. People can only leave their homes to exercise once a day, go shopping for food and medication, travel for medical needs or to care for a vulnerable person, and travel to work only if essential. Police will be able to enforce these restrictions.

All non-essential shops will close with immediate effect, as will playgrounds, places of worship and libraries. Large events or gatherings of more than two people cannot go ahead, including weddings and celebrations. Funerals can only be attended by immediate family.

Children of separated parents can go between both parents' homes.

Anyone with a cough or cold symptoms needs to self-isolate with their entire household for 14 days.

The government has now instructed bars, restaurants, theatres and non-essential businesses to close and will review on a ‘month to month’ basis. Schools closed from Friday 20 March for the foreseeable future, and exams have been cancelled.

The over 70s or anyone who is vulnerable or living with an underlying illness are being asked to be extra careful and stay at home to self-isolate. People with serious underlying health conditions will be contacted and strongly advised to undertake "shielding" for 12 weeks.

For more information on government advice, please check their website. https://www.gov.uk/government/topical-events/coronavirus-covid-19-uk-government-response

Should I avoid public places?

You should now avoid public places and any non-essential travel. Travel abroad is also being advised against for the next 30 days at least, and many European countries have closed their borders.

What should I do if I feel unwell?

Don’t go to your GP but instead look online at the coronavirus service that can tell you if you need medical help and what to do next. https://111.nhs.uk/covid-19

Only call 111 if you cannot get help online.

When to call NHS 111

Only call NHS 111 if you can’t get help online and feel very unwell. This should be used if you feel extremely ill with coronavirus symptoms. If you have been in a country with a high risk of coronavirus in the last 14 days or if you have been in close contact with someone with the virus please use the online service.

Sources: World Health Organisation and NHS