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28/06/2024 NASP webinar: Supporting people through NHS Volunteer Responders – ​ how the service can be an effective social prescription

Volunteering has always been a vital part of social prescribing, whether utilising volunteering opportunities as a social prescription, or working with volunteers who provide support. In this session, find out more about an excellent example of this - the NHS and Care Volunteer Responders programme.

This programme provides Social Prescribers and other healthcare professionals with available, appropriately checked volunteers to help patients and people who need additional support in the community. Over 40,000 volunteers are ready to help.

Services include friendly phone calls, picking up and delivering prescriptions and shopping and providing support for people to enjoy a range of activities in the home or in their community; all of which we know can improve the health and wellbeing of those in need of social prescribing.

Find out more about the programme, how referrers have been supported by it and how you can make a referral. Hear examples of how Volunteer Responders have met the needs of referrers and supported Social Prescribers, and how to connect to the provision in your area.


  • Chair, Monica Boulton, Healthcare Integration Lead at the National Academy for Social Prescribing
  • Oliver Clark, Project Manager at NHS and Care Volunteer Responders
  • Jen Williams, Regional Relationship Manager at NHS and Care Volunteer Responders

The NHS and Care Volunteer Responders programme is available in England. If you have any questions about the programme, the volunteer support available in your area and how to make a referral. Please reach out to your local Regional Relationship Manger.

Contact Volunteer Responders

Q&A section

The NHS Volunteer Responders team have kindly provided answers to questions we couldn't get to in the session, they have also provided answers to some of their commonly asked questions. 

  • Do you have to use the app on your phone or can it be accessed via computer?
    Volunteers use the app to accept requests for support and mark them as a complete. As a referrer, you will use the GoodSAM web browser to enter your requests into the system and to monitor them.

  • Can you tell me when this started please? Was it a pilot in 2020?
    The Volunteer Responders programme was set up in March 2020 to support people vulnerable to COVID-19, those shielding or isolating, and the NHS in England. The programme continues to evolve as the needs of patients and the NHS change.

  • In the future would you provide a zoom check in call with patients?
    We are always looking for insights into how we can continue to develop the programme. We would encourage you to discuss specific requests with your Regional Relationship Manager so we can feed these back into the wider programme team.

  • How do you know or confirm that the volunteer has been and carried out the task they accepted? Is this followed up to ensure a referral does not go through the gap and the person misses out on support?
    Once you have made your referral through the GoodSAM portal, you will be able to log in and monitor the status of your requests. This will give you visibility over whether the request has been accepted and completed by a volunteer. We do not provide notifications on the status of a referral.
  • Can volunteers take activity ideas to people looking for something to do - or do they rely on the person in need to say they need help with something they want to do?
    We would recommend speaking to the person you are referring in to discuss ideas for possible activities based on their interests, you can then suggest these in the additional information box. If the person is unsure what they would like to do, you can also request that a volunteer help them to explore opportunities in their local community when they meet. Please ensure that the suggestions are within the boundaries of either the Connect or Companionship Visit activities, you can read the referrer guides here - Support Available

  • Excluding age are there any other restrictions for who volunteers can support individually?
    The person being referred in must live in England and have capacity to consent to the referral. For further guidance, please have a look at our website - Referral criteria

  • Could a connect activity include bringing a patient to an NHS appointment, if there’s financial strain that is stopping them access healthcare?
    This is not in scope for this activity. The aim of this activity is to assist the person to engage in social activities, hobbies and pastimes within their community. We are considering potential options to support patients to attend medical appointments in the future and will keep you updated on any progress.

  • Do you provide support for people who want to attend GP appointments or physiotherapy?
    We do not currently provide transport to medical appointments. We are considering potential options and will keep you updated on any progress.

  • How do you manage the money transactions for shopping service?
    Please see the volunteer ‘Getting You Started Guide’ for this activity which lists the payment options for the volunteer to discuss with the person when they make their initial phone call - Payment Options

  • Are all volunteers DBS checked?
    Please have a look at our Safety and Safeguarding page on the website for full details.

  • What are the pilot areas for In Home Support?
    Our pilot areas are currently Birmingham, Buckinghamshire, Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole and Kirklees. When you choose your Local Authority on the referral form, it will show you the activities available in your area. We will let you know when this service is expanded to new areas.

  • Can I direct people to sign up as a volunteer?
    Yes, people can sign up to be a Volunteer Responder here - I want to volunteer

  • For a Connect or In Home Support referral, what happens if the match is felt to be incompatible?
    If this is simply due to differing personalities, the person being supported or the volunteer can simply call our Support Team and request the referral be cancelled and a new one made. For more serious concerns, our Support Team can escalate to our internal Safeguarding team.  
  • How do I contact my Regional Relationship Manager?
    Please refer to the contact details on our website - Regional Relationship Managers

  • How do I make a referral?
    Please head to our website to make a referral and reach out to your Regional Relationship Manager if you need support - Make a referral


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