More than 400,000 have signed up to be NHS volunteers, says PM

More than 400,000 people have signed up to be volunteers for the NHS in just 24 hours, according to the Prime Minister.

Speaking at the daily press conference inside Number 10, Boris Johnson said he wanted to offer a "special thank you to everyone who has now volunteered to help the NHS".

He added: "When we launched the appeal last night, we hoped to get 250,000 volunteers over a few days.

"But I can tell you that in just 24 hours, 405,000 people have responded to the call."

The mass sign-up follows Health Secretary Matt Hancock's request for a quarter-of-a-million people to donate their time to help the 1.5 million people isolating for 12 weeks in an attempt to slow the spread of Covid-19.

Mr Johnson said the volunteers would be "absolutely crucial" in the fight against the illness, and that the number signed up was equivalent to the population of Coventry.

Professor Stephen Powis, NHS national medical director, said: "We are truly amazed by the number of people who want to come and help us in the war against coronavirus.

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Pictures of the week: March 22 - 28
Sean (no surname given) asks for money so he can pay for a hostel for the night in Wolverhampton city centre as the UK continues in lockdown to help curb the spread of the coronavirus.
A Sussex Police van moves amongst people walking along the promenade in Brighton as the UK continues in lockdown to help curb the spread of the coronavirus.
Members of the public jog down Portobello Road in Notting Hill, London as the UK continues in lockdown to help curb the spread of the coronavirus.
Police stop motorists as they travel on Park Street, Bristol, where random checks on essential travel are taking place as the UK continues in lockdown to help curb the spread of the coronavirus.
Information screens saluting local heroes on a main road passing Canary Wharf in east London as the UK continues in lockdown to help curb the spread of the coronavirus.
Police patrol Park Street, Bristol, where they are checking the movement of people as the UK continues in lockdown to help curb the spread of the coronavirus.
The Men's toilet facilities at the Strensham Services in Worcestershire where alternate urinals are out of use to maintain social distancing as the UK continues in lockdown to help curb the spread of the coronavirus.
Members of the public wearing masks queue to enter shops in Melton Mowbray as the UK continues in lockdown to help curb the spread of the coronavirus.
Tape marks out 2 metre sections on the floor to implement social distancing measures at a Tesco store in Peterborough, after Prime Minister Boris Johnson has put the UK in lockdown to help curb the spread of the coronavirus.
A deserted Piccadilly Circus during morning rush hour after Prime Minister Boris Johnson put the UK in lockdown to help curb the spread of the coronavirus.
Customers queue between social distancing markers on the pavement outside a supermarket in Westminster, London after Prime Minister Boris Johnson put the UK in lockdown to help curb the spread of the coronavirus.
A London bus driver wearing a protective face mask on Westminster Bridge, London, after Prime Minister Boris Johnson made the decision to put the UK in lockdown to help curb the spread of the coronavirus.
A man walks in Canary Wharf, London during rush hour, after Prime Minister Boris Johnson has put the UK in lockdown to help curb the spread of the coronavirus.
British Airways planes parked on the tarmac at Glasgow Airport after Prime Minister Boris Johnson has put the UK in lockdown to help curb the spread of the coronavirus.
Postal delivery worker Matt delivers mail in the village of Ironbridge in Shropshire, while his customers have to stay at home, after Prime Minister Boris Johnson has put the UK in lockdown to help curb the spread of the coronavirus.
Information signs advise people to take essential travel only on the Queensferry Crossing, near Edinburgh, after Prime Minister Boris Johnson has put the UK in lockdown to help curb the spread of the coronavirus.
Baby Laggar falcons at The International Centre for Birds of Prey in Newent, after Prime Minister Boris Johnson has put the UK in lockdown to help curb the spread of the coronavirus.
A man wearing a protective face mask walks in Canary Wharf, London during rush hour, after Prime Minister Boris Johnson has put the UK in lockdown to help curb the spread of the coronavirus.
Simon Cotterill, Head Teacher of Manor Park School and Nursery in Knutsford Cheshire, sits in an empty classroom, the day after Prime Minister Boris Johnson put the UK in lockdown to help curb the spread of the coronavirus.
A couple hug on the steps on The National Gallery in Trafalgar Square in London the day after Prime Minister Boris Johnson put the UK in lockdown to help curb the spread of the coronavirus.
A view of Lakeside Retail Park in Thurrock, Essex, the day after Prime Minister Boris Johnson put the UK in lockdown to help curb the spread of the coronavirus.
A quiet Canary Wharf Underground Station, the day after Prime Minister Boris Johnson put the UK in lockdown to help curb the spread of the coronavirus.
A couple wearing protevtive equipment walk by the Bullring in Birmingham, the day after Prime Minister Boris Johnson put the UK in lockdown to help curb the spread of the coronavirus.
Skegness pier is closed, the day after Prime Minister Boris Johnson put the UK in lockdown to help curb the spread of the coronavirus.
A man walks in Holyrood Park, Edinburgh, the day after Prime Minister Boris Johnson put the UK in lockdown to help curb the spread of the coronavirus.
A sign from the Royak Parks notifying the public about social distancing at the Piccadilly entrance to Green Park, London, as Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said the Government is ready to impose tougher restrictions to curb the spread of the coronavirus if people do not follow the guidance on social distancing.
Hospital staff and ambulance staff prepare to take a patient into the Royal Liverpool University Hospital, as Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said the Government is ready to impose tougher restrictions to curb the spread of the coronavirus if people do not follow the guidance on social distancing.
A dog walker looks at the signage the entrance for Osterley Park and House in Isleworth, London, after The National Trust announced it has shut down all of its parks and and gardens across the UK until further notice.
British Airways aircraft parked at Bournemouth airport where they are expected to remain after the airline reduced flights amid travel restrictions and a huge drop in demand as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
Drivers form a long queue to use a McDonald's drive-thru near Dover in Kent as it was announced that all of their restaurant locations in the UK and Ireland will close by 7pm on Monday to protect the safety of their employees and customers from coronavirus.
Emily, 9, sits at her desk at home on the first day of home schooling after schools shut on Friday due to the coronavirus pandemic.
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"I would like to thank every last one of you who are offering your time – you will without a doubt help us to save lives.

"Our NHS needs you – whether it's by volunteering or simply staying at home – you are helping your families, communities and protecting our NHS."

Anyone who is over the age of 18, fit and healthy and non-symptomatic can offer their time to the scheme.

NHS chief executive Sir Simon Stevens praised the "overwhelming response" to the call for volunteers to help the vulnerable and thanked those who will devote their time to the health service.

He said: "Times like this show just how generous the British people are and how much they value our health service – we are blown away by this response and the kindness of our country.

"I can't thank those enough who have pledged to devote their time to helping others at what is a challenging and uncertain time for you and your families.

"The NHS is always there for you – now is your time to be there for us too."

Housing, Communities and Local Government Secretary Robert Jenrick called NHS staff "absolute heroes ... working round the clock to support us as a country" and provided more detail on what the volunteers may be doing.

He told BBC Radio 4's Today Programme that there would be a variety of jobs available, including parcel delivery and driving.

They may also be asked to drive people to appointments or make regular phone calls to those in isolation, the NHS said.

Mr Jenrick added: "We need to get volunteers into this collective national effort to support the NHS, to support social care, and in particular to support the 1.5 million people who for specific clinical reasons we're shielding."

GPs, doctors, pharmacists, nurses, midwives, NHS 111 advisers and social care staff will all be able to request help for at-risk patients through a call centre run by the Royal Voluntary Service, which will match people who need help with volunteers who live near them.

People can sign up to the service at www.goodsamapp.org/NHS.

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