Article and photos from hienalouca.com
The late surge means the new year will see more than 32,500 readers give up their time to help others, following an astonishing month.
The last-minute pledges before the midnight deadline mean patients and staff will benefit from more than 1.8million hours of extra help in 2019.
Readers will now be matched with a local NHS trust to fulfil one of hundreds of possible volunteer roles, from patient befrienders to hospital guides, starting in spring.
Theresa May hailed it as an ‘overwhelming success’ on Monday and described the response as ‘really heartening’
The Mail launched the campaign with the charity Helpforce on December 1 and the response was overwhelming from the start, with more than 10,000 signing up within just five days.
By last night, 32,674 people had vowed to carry out 1.84 million hours of unpaid work to comfort patients and ease pressure on the health service.
Of these, 18,443 have pledged to help for three hours a week while 14,231 people will spend one day a month in their roles, for a minimum of six months. The incredible response – which will see volunteer numbers within the NHS swell by more than a third – has won praise from everyone from the Prime Minister to members of the Royal Family.
Theresa May hailed it as an ‘overwhelming success’ on Monday and described the response as ‘really heartening’.
She said: ‘Something as simple as having a cup of tea and a chat with someone recovering from an operation can make a big difference, and it’s those small but crucial things that will happen far more often all over the country in future.
‘It’s something your readers can be very proud of – and it’s a tribute to everyone who has pledged to give up their time for a noble cause.’
It followed a rare joint statement by the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall in which they said it was an outstanding example of the British spirit that will make a ‘real difference’ to people’s lives.
WHAT IS THE DAILY MAIL’S NEW CAMPAIGN TO RECRUIT THOUSANDS OF NHS VOLUNTEERS?
The Daily Mail launched a major campaign at the end of November to recruit thousands of NHS volunteers.
We asked our readers to find time to help patients and take pressure off frontline staff.
Vital hospital roles include mentoring patients, providing friendship and even being a blood courier.
The recruitment drive – the biggest in Britain since the 2012 Olympics and backed by health unions – is a partnership between the Mail and the charity Helpforce.
The Daily Mail is asking readers to find time to help patients and take pressure off staff
Vital hospital roles include mentoring patients, providing friendship and even being a blood courier
Those who sign up for the Christmas appeal will be asked to pledge as little as a day a month, or three hours a week, for a minimum of six months.
An estimated 78,000 volunteers already contribute to the NHS, yet the growing complexities of delivering health and social care for an ageing population mean the need for help is greater than ever.
Hospital consultations have doubled in a decade – from 11million in 2008/9 to more than 20million last year.
And last week a report identified a sharp rise in emergency admissions, while there are more than 100,000 staff vacancies in the service.
This puts frontline staff under immense pressure, creating the need for volunteers to step in with practical support and a helping hand.
Prospective volunteers can register their interest by filling out a simple form online. They will be matched with an NHS trust, with placements running from the spring, depending on availability and subject to the necessary checks.
Volunteer roles could include befriending patients, collecting prescriptions and even running singing groups. Others may use their own experiences of cancer or mental health to comfort others.
Surplus volunteers could be referred to charities such as Marie Curie and the British Red Cross.
Health bosses say the vast numbers of people offering a helping hand was a ‘major boost’ to the NHS as it heads into its most testing period.
The head of NHS England, Simon Stevens, and Health Secretary Matt Hancock both paid tribute to the extraordinary response over the past four weeks.
Mr Hancock said: ‘It is wonderful to see people from all walks of life giving up their time to help support staff, support patients and support our NHS.
‘I pay tribute to the Daily Mail and to Helpforce for a hugely successful campaign – it has been truly inspirational.’
The campaign has seen the likes of the Archbishop of Canterbury, Harry Potter author JK Rowling and music legends Sir Cliff Richard and Sir Tom Jones offer their support.
Celebrities including Claudia Winkleman and Ralph Fiennes were so inspired that they went into their local hospitals to show their support to staff, patients and existing volunteers.
It has led to dozens of volunteers sharing their inspirational stories and saw others such as Samantha Cameron sharing their personal experience of NHS volunteers.
Last night, Sir Thomas Hughes-Hallett, founder of Helpforce, said: ‘As this extraordinary Christmas campaign hits the New Year, Helpforce salutes the amazing Daily Mail readers with the simple words – keep on going, you have shown that you care.
‘The whole of Britain is proud of you. You shine as a wonderful light of compassion at a difficult and uncertain time.’
Although this is the last chance to join our campaign, readers can still become NHS volunteers.
They can register interest on the Helpforce website or contact their local hospital or health trust about volunteering opportunities.
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