NHS and Care Volunteer Responders

The NHS and Care Volunteer Responders programme has over 35,000 volunteers who support people in their local community. Find out how Volunteer Responders can help you and how to access them.

NHS and Care Volunteer Responders is a volunteering programme supporting the NHS, its patients, and people who use social care, have caring responsibilities or are experiencing isolation and loneliness.

NHS and Care Volunteer Responders can support you with a range of activities including:

  • Check-in and Chat: volunteers are available to provide you with a friendly phone call. This will be a call from a different volunteer each time for up to 18 weeks.
  • Check-in and Chat Plus: volunteers provide regular friendly phone calls and a listening ear up to three times a week for up to six weeks.
  • Community Response: volunteers can help you collect prescriptions, shop and get other essential supplies. If eligible, this service is available as a one-off or for a maximum of six weeks.
  • Pick Up and Deliver: if you need medication or medical equipment, you can get this delivered to your home, usually before or after a hospital stay. This service requires a health or care professional to refer you.

You can find out more about what support is available here.

There are different ways to access support.

  • Self-referral: you can call the volunteer responder self-referral phone line to make a referral on 0808 196 3646 between 8am and 8pm, seven days a week.
  • Referral through a health or care professional: a professional referrer such as your GP,  other medical practitioners or adult social care providers can request a referral for you. Pick Up and Deliver is only available through a professional referral.
  • Local Healthwatch: your local Healthwatch is a professional referrer and can refer you to a volunteer responder. You can find your local Healthwatch and contact them for a referral.
  • Check-in and Chat is available to anyone in need of a friendly phone call and encourage to improve their mental and wellbeing.
  • Check-in and Chat Plus is available to anyone who would prefer or benefit from speaking to the same volunteer.
  • Community Response is available for those with a current health need or in receipt of a care package.

These services are not designed to be a treatment service.  Anyone with complex vulnerabilities or needs would not be suitable to be referred to the service.

Examples of where the service would not be appropriate:

  • People with complex mental health needs.
  • People who are know to be suicidal.
  • People with severe cognitive impairment.
  • Referrals for those with drug addiction or alcohol dependency.

If you want more information or have more questions, you can take a look at the NHS responders frequently asked questions (FAQs) here, or alternatively you can call 0808 196 3646.

Last updated: 2/27/2024