“Unsung heroes” of COVID-19 response

National volunteering hub oversees 7,000 shifts in first year

Thousands of volunteers have been supporting efforts to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic through the National Volunteer Co-ordination (NVC) hub established a year ago.

The NVC hub was established by the Scottish Government and NHS Scotland last February. Run by the British Red Cross, it has so far provided more than 7,000 individual volunteer shifts over that period, totalling more 54,000 volunteering hours.

This has complemented the major contribution of community volunteering organised by third sector interfaces (TSIs), NHS volunteers and others across the country, towards the national COVID response effort over the past two years.

Health Secretary Humza Yousaf met with volunteers in Edinburgh today who have helped carry out a range of roles, including support with  vaccination, community testing and shielding support, as well as shopping, prescription delivery and social contact.

Mr Yousaf said:  "Volunteers have played an essential role in helping to deal with the impact of the pandemic on communities all over Scotland - in many ways they are the unsung heroes of our collective effort.

“The contribution they make, from providing necessary support for shielders and maintaining vital human contact at the start of the pandemic, to assisting the roll-out of the vaccination campaign and handing out COVID test kits, has been pivotal to our collective response. They typify the incredible spirit we have seen throughout the pandemic from communities across Scotland and the individuals and organisations working within them.

"The creation of the NVC hub has ensured that volunteering support is targeted to areas where it is most needed - and participation levels have been remarkable.

“It has complemented the vital role played by a wide range of local community groups and individuals. We owe all volunteers a huge debt of gratitude for their efforts."

And NHS volunteers have provided 52,000 volunteering hours to Health Boards across the country the last quarter of last year, alone.

Alan Stevenson, CEO, Volunteer Scotland:  "Volunteers have given enormous support to others throughout this pandemic and in doing so, mitigated some of its worst effects. 

“They've provided the response our society needed at that time, from being the first to react - delivering food, prescriptions and social connection - to helping provide successful national testing and vaccination programmes. As Volunteers address the long-lasting impact of COVID-19, largely for the most vulnerable in society, they will need our support and recognition."



  • Anyone interested in volunteering or seeking assistance can contact the National Volunteer Co-ordination Hub.
  • The NVC hub was established in February 2021 and is operated by the British Red Cross. It is designed to complement existing links with the voluntary sector and is able to draw on a wide range of VCS organisations to support those who don’t have local VCS support arrangements in place.
  • In addition to the Red Cross’s own volunteers, the Hub has reached out to local partners and over 20 other voluntary sector organisations have also contributed volunteers.  
  • In addition to the NVC hub deployments, local volunteering activity continues. So far, in the Edinburgh H&SCP area, alone, NHS Lothian’s own volunteers have given over 20,000 volunteer hours and Volunteer Edinburgh (TSI) has provided a further 11,000 hours, to support the COVID Vaccination programme
  • The Health Secretary visited Volunteer Edinburgh’s headquarters today which has also provided around 13,000 volunteer hours to support members of the public, directly, with basic tasks like shopping etc. 


Examples of wider community group volunteering activity

 Aberdeen Voluntary Action recruited and trained 90 volunteers to work with HSCP staff in nine Aberdeenshire care homes. Volunteers helped to maintain that crucial human contact ,we all understand, by organising board games and bingo sessions; reading and chatting, as well as serving meals and washing dishes.

  • The Blair Atholl and District Covid Response Group deployed18 fully kitted volunteers to help those shielding or needing assistance with shopping, prescriptions, dog walking, social contact and transport to local surgery/hospitals. They established a helpline and procured funding, for IT support to allow children without to home school, and to enable food, games sweets and meat vouchers to be sent to families who might need it. The Group has now been assisting local communities for over 22 months.
  • Alyth Community Support Group worked with the Alyth Development Trust and the Community Council, to protect individuals from ‘food scarcity’ and ‘isolation’ during lockdown. They set up an information hub and food bank, which includes school uniform exchange and children’s activity packs. The group also provides ‘online’ ‘qualified’ counselling sessions and ‘wellness’ services, such as birdwatching, walks and relaxation techniques, to help people deal with stress and anxiety. The Community Action Plan includes a number of innovative measures to bring the community together outdoors as well as online.
  • The Badenoch and Strathspey Food Hub began operating food tables out of three centres in covering all of the communities in the local area. The tables are stocked and run by volunteers who collect the produce from local supermarkets and supporting outlets and the service regularly provides food to approximately 75 separate walk-ins every month.
  • Voluntary Action South Lanarkshire are running a one year pilot to build and support a bank of volunteers to provide a range of community support tasks for patients discharging into the community, in February.  The aspiration is to scale this up across each of the four localities in due course.


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