Kindness is fighting the coronavirus in Scotland

A leading Scottish charity is trying to fight the coronavirus – with kindness.

Thursday, 9th April 2020, 11:44 am
Heroes with headsets...CHSS advice line nurses are on hand not only to advise those with underlying health conditions but also now to refer them to an army of volunteers who are on standy to assist them.

Chest, Heart and Stroke Scotland (CHSS) launched a campaign for volunteers on Wednesday, March 25.

Within the first 24 hours, more than 1000 people had signed up and by Monday, the tally stood at just over 3500 volunteers.

Now the charity is eager to hear from people who are self-isolating and vulnerable to coronavirus who need help in local communities across the country.

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The Scottish Government has joined forces with the British Red Cross to appeal for volunteers to come forward in communities all over Scotland.

If you need someone to get your shopping or medication, walk your dog or someone to check-in on you over the phone while you’re isolating, an army of volunteers is waiting to help.

Jane-Claire Judson, the charity’s chief executive, said: “We have been overwhelmed by the amazing response we have had from volunteers who want to help people across Scotland.

“They are ready to go and have already started helping people in their communities.

“If you need help with anything from your shopping to simply chatting to someone over the phone, we are here for you.

“Pick up the phone and give us a call today and we will match you with a volunteer in your area.

“No one should be left to fight this virus alone.”

To access help, call the CHSS Advice Line today on 0808 801 0899 or visit www.chss.org.uk/coronavirus.

The charity would like to thank everyone who has already signed up but has stressed that it is still keen to recruit even more.

Volunteer roles include kindness calls to reduce social isolation and provide a check-in service for those who are stuck in their homes, as well as shopping and medication deliveries for those in high-risk groups.

The only skills required for these roles are a friendly, listening ear, a willingness to help in your local community and to follow medical advice around social isolation and distancing. The charity will be providing training and coaching for all volunteers.

Jane-Claire added: “We have been absolutely delighted with the response.

“It’s amazing and reassuring that so many people in Scotland have signed up and are continuing to sign up to help.

“It’s so important that we can reach people living in our communities who are isolated and scared right now; they need our help more than ever.

“Many people have lost their weekly support groups and only social interaction; they are devastated.

“So we are appealing for volunteers to come together as an act of kindness and make sure that no one is left to fight the virus alone.

“By simply making a kindness call you can make a huge difference to their health and well-being. It will mean the world to them.

“This is the biggest volunteer movement that Scotland has seen in a generation. Be part of it and join the fight against coronavirus.

“You have the power to help the most vulnerable people in your communities and we are urging you to sign-up now.”

Since launching the campaign, someone in Scotland has registered to join the fight every two minutes at www.chss.org.uk/coronavirus.

Among their number are Rebecca Maxwell from East Lothian and Sam Mossman from Argyll and Bute.

Rebecca (32) from Pencaitland, who signed up on social media, said: “Although being at home with my 10 month old son is busy, I also have some time on my hands so I’ve joined the fight as a kindness caller.

“I believe everyone needs to step up and help one another at this difficult time.

“It’s really easy to sign up and register. I can’t wait to get on the phone and support someone that needs help.”

Sam (45) from Oban was eager to get involved too.

Explaining why, she said: “People who are usually able to access services are quite probably feeling isolated just now and that’s not conducive with staying well.

“If I can reach out to someone who wants to chat, to connect with them, then maybe that might make a difference in their day or, indeed, mine.

“Supporting each other is key; we must keep talking.”

The generosity shown by Scots answering the appeal comes as little surprise to Lawrence Cowan, CHSS’s communications director.

However, the volume and speed of the response was overwhelming.

Lawrence said: “The people we support already have underying health conditions so we knew they would need help, more than ever, during the lockdown.

“There was a real danger that they would be at home, isolated and fearful.

“That’s why we launched our volunteers campaign and we have been overwhelmed by the response.

“It’s clear that people want to help us fight back with kindness.”

The CHSS advice line has also witnessed an increase in calls in recent weeks, most relating to COVID-19.

A qualified team of nurses who answer those calls are also now passing on details of people who need help, be it shopping or a kindness call.

Lawrence said: “Our advice line nurses, whom we call heroes with headsets, are bracing themselves for an even bigger increase in calls.

“They will be offering support and advice to people living with chest conditions like COPD, who are at high risk from the virus, but will also be answering calls from people who need assistance from our army of volunteers.

“All the latest information and government advice is also available on our website so that it’s easy to access.”

The Advice Line – 0808 801 0899 – is open Monday to Friday from 9.30am to 4pm or you can email [email protected]

Lawrence is keen for as many people as possible to use the service.

He said: “If people know of a neighbour or friend who would benefit, please let them know about it.

“Not only will they get to speak to a qualified nurse, but they can also be referred a kindness volunteer in their area who can check in on them regularly,

“We’re very good at coming together in Scotland for a common cause.

“We’re fighting coronavirus with kindness because that’s how we’ll get through it – by joining forces and working together.”

Scotland’s leading volunteering charity caring for people at risk of coronavirus, CHSS issued its appeal after more than 250,000 people volunteered to help the NHS in England.

Those who are unable to volunteer can also join the campaign by helping to fund the charity’s vital work.

Lawrence added: “Ten pounds will help us answer one more call; £20 will fund a one hour call to someone who is isolated and £50 will help train more staff to answer even more calls.”

To become a volunteer hero or to donate funds to the cause, visit www.chss.org.uk/coronavirus.

Red Cross and Scottish Government join forces

The Scottish Government is urging people to sign up with the British Red Cross to help those most in need.

The volunteering campaign calls on ordinary people who want to share their kindness with others to register as a community reserve volunteer (CRV) and be part of a Scotland-wide effort to protect the NHS, support people in need and help save lives.

People can sign up with the Red Cross now at www.readyscotland.org to join a team of volunteers who will take food, medicine and supplies to vulnerable people unable to leave their homes.

CRVs will provide extra people power to boost the amazing work already happening in communities, large and small, urban and rural, the length and breadth of Scotland.

Norman McKinley, executive director of UK operations for the British Red Cross, said: “We have been humbled by the outpouring of kindness across the country and the numbers of people wanting to play their part.

“We are proud to partner with the Scottish Government to encourage even more volunteers to sign up and help others when they are needed.

“We want to help support and strengthen communities who are already doing so much to support others, by harnessing the power of people’s kindness into a co-ordinated network.

“Volunteers will be called upon, in the weeks and months ahead, to assist the vital work that’s already happening to distribute food, medicines and supplies to those who can’t get out.

“People who are well can also receive alerts to join the work of existing initiatives such as food banks and community groups locally, through organisations such as FareShare and the Trussell Trust.

“By coming together, we can make sure everyone’s needs can be met and no-one is forced to face this crisis alone.”

The website www.readyscotland.org will direct recruits to the Red Cross’s simple online recruitment platform to sign-up which takes just five minutes.

Volunteers will then be co-ordinated and supported by the British Red Cross.