Health and social care round-up: March 2021

This round-up aims to inform voluntary and public sector colleagues about national health and social care policy, with an emphasis on volunteering and the voluntary sector. It’s part of NCVO’s work as a member of the VCSE Health and Wellbeing Alliance.

Volunteers’ Week 1-7 June!

We’re only two months away from Volunteers’ Week 2021! We’re delighted to be working together with our partners in the UK Volunteering Forum: WCVA (Wales), Volunteer Scotland and Volunteer Now (Northern Ireland) to bring you this year’s campaign. Keep an eye on our website for updates and follow us on @ncvovolunteers – the official Volunteers’ Week Twitter account!

Covid-19 and the voluntary sector


Let NCVO help you get ready for lockdown easing. We have dedicated guidance on coronavirus covering:

  • staff
  • volunteers
  • governance
  • funding
  • delivering your work
  • safeguarding.

We’ll update this regularly to help organisations navigate the relaxing of restrictions carefully and safely.

NHS England and NHS Improvement 

NHS England and NHS Improvement (NHES/I) have updated guidance for staff managing volunteers in the NHS. This guidance is for managers to support volunteers in any volunteer role, whether in primary or secondary care settings.

Mass vaccination and the voluntary sector

We asked 60 organisations about mass vaccination. Here’s what we learned about barriers to mass vaccination and the role of charities and volunteers.

Rapid mass testing of covid in schools and colleges

The Voluntary Community Sector Emergencies Partnership (VCSEP) has been working with the Department for Education to support schools and colleges with rapid mass testing. The VCSEP has developed a process for how schools and colleges can request support from voluntary and community organisations and a grant-allocation guide for accessing voluntary sector support. There is no national contract in place because VCSEP is championing a local approach.

toolkit for organisations is available on the VCSEP website, which can be downloaded to support conversations locally. This includes a costing framework, required training elements for volunteers, and a frequently asked questions document.

Covid-19 research

Mobilising Voluntary Action

NCVO is working with Volunteer Scotland, WCVA and Volunteer Now on a collaborative research project at Northumbria University to explore voluntary action during covid-19. The project will help build the evidence base on the impacts of the pandemic on volunteering and the learning will generate recommendations to shape future policy and inform recovery.

Joanna Stuart, NCVO Research Associate and Laura Crawford, Northumbria University, highlight some of the key findings from existing evidence and how this new research will help answer new questions as we move into the next phase of the pandemic. Organisations are invited to share their experiences and views on volunteering during covid through a survey. This will help us build a better picture of what is happening and make the case for volunteering support.

Voluntary Sector Impact Barometer

The Respond, Recover, Reset project with Nottingham Trent released its fifth report based on the wave five barometer survey responses and interview quotes. This month’s theme was the financial impact of the pandemic which used special survey questions including:

  • reserve levels and expected changes to funding sources for the next financial year
  • interview quotes on income
  • funding bodies and outlook.

The data from the report can be found in this month’s barometer dashboard. The wave six barometer survey was launched on Monday 8 March and had 536 responses when it closed on 22 March.

Addressing health inequality

Volunteering: A remedy for health inequalities?

We held an online event on 10 March to explore how volunteering has helped to address health inequalities, as well as its limitations. We wish to thank our five speakers from Centre for Ageing Better, Voluntary Action Sheffield, St Peter’s Hospice, Saathi House and Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust, who shared their learning with delegates.

Six delegate groups gave their thoughts on the future direction of the Health and Wellbeing Alliance and we’ve shared comments back to our Commissioner at NHSE/I. We’re hopeful that learning from this event will inform onward conversations for the future direction of the Alliance. You can view the comments on the future of the Alliance here. Thank you to all who came!

Alliance Members Working Day

NCVO joined Alliance members for a working day on 16 March. This was a fantastic opportunity for members to reflect on the work of the Alliance over the last four years, and to share learning and resources. We heard from the sub-groups on inclusion health, end of life care and learning disability and autism about their experiences and achievements in addressing health inequalities. The Alliance has had a huge impact, and on social media alone has had a potential reach of over 6.5m people, with 4000 contributors publishing 13.5k tweets.

Addressing health inequalities through volunteering

Mandy James, development manager at Volunteering Matters, reflects on the disproportionate impact covid has had on many who already face disadvantage and discrimination. In her blog she shares how aligning with communities and local partnerships can challenge the systems and power dynamics that perpetuate health inequalities.

In this blog, Dr Jurgen Grotz, Director of The Institute for Volunteering Research, shares four key messages around recent conversations about addressing health inequalities through volunteering.

How volunteers tackle health inequalities at Mencap

Volunteer engagement at Mencap improves health outcomes of people with a learning disability in a number of ways; both directly and indirectly, through formal volunteering and community-led activism. Anne-Marie Zaritsky, Head of Volunteering at Mencap, tells us how volunteers campaign for inclusion.

Health Education England’s eLearning and the National Volunteering Certificate

Health Education England (HEE) offers free eLearning for anyone working or volunteering in health and/or care, including the voluntary sector. There are nearly twenty courses to choose from, including:

  • data Security Awareness,
  • equality and diversity and human rights
  • safeguarding
  • mental health awareness and more.

All eLearning and the National Volunteering Certificate are completely free to access.  The certificate is based on six core standards and is accredited by Skills for Justice.  Once completed (including a period of 60 volunteer hours) participants receive an accredited certificate and badge. The Hub also contains additional eLearning materials for both volunteers and for volunteer service managers.

New toolkit!

Volunteering Matters has created a new toolkit for older people and people with dementia. This toolkit was created by Volunteering Matters project, Network Point Newcastle and funded by Newcastle City Council. If you’re eager to break glass ceilings and think creatively about how to engage more older people and people with dementia in volunteering.

NHS Volunteer Responders 

NHS Volunteer Responders have now answered 1.6m requests for help from people vulnerable to covid-19. The programme is prioritising recruitment for Patient Transport, Community Response and Community Response Plus volunteers in parts of the country where demand is greatest. Volunteers with an existing Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) are particularly sought after so please promote this opportunity to any volunteers who may be stood down from other duties.

They can apply for these roles via the NHS Volunteer Responder website. Recruitment to the steward volunteer role continues to be paused. The volunteers carrying out this role have already committed over 203,500 volunteer hours at sites across the country.

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Avatar photo Jarina is our volunteering development consultancy officer. Jarina develops consultancy and training services with the aim of improving volunteering practice across the public, private and voluntary sectors.

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