One thing we Brits are rather good at is volunteering at a time of crisis. We normally stare at the floor in the Underground; but the moment that something goes wrong, we magically start speaking to each other and working together for the common good. That was demonstrated in spades in the Second World War, and now is another time just like it. 

All the reports indicate that we are facing some very tough times indeed (although let’s hope that its less bad in the event.) Very large numbers of seriously sick people, sadly a significant number of deaths. It’s said that the over 70s are going to have to stay at home for a long period of time; even that sooner or later the whole Nation may be ‘shut down.’ 

Now, if even part of all of that is true, there are going to be all sorts of personal crises at a family, local and community level. People are going to need help with shopping; they may need help with transport to and from hospital; they may just need a little chat down the phone to stop them getting lonely. People on their own, especially old people may well need all sorts of help and support. And, without increasing risks in any way, its you and I who can help.  

This is going to be a National crisis. The authorities will do what they can; but there is only so much they can do. And ordinary people in their everyday lives can volunteer to fill some of those gaps. So how do we go about it? 

Well there are well established organisations who are gearing up. The St John Ambulance, or Order of St John as it is more properly known, are in the lead. They are mainly working with the NHS. They have 10,000 medically trained volunteers and a very large number of untrained. I have been in touch with them at a senior level to see how I can help and know that they would always want to hear of either problems; or of volunteers.  

Then the Red Cross are actively recruiting Community Reserve Volunteers. Whereas the Order of St John are in the lead on the medical side, the Red Cross are in the lead on the social care side of things. You can easily sign up  at https://reserves.redcross.org.uk. (Philippa and I have both signed up, dodgy hip permitting.) I know that Wiltshire Council are doing what they can to coordinate volunteer efforts locally; and organisations like the Scouts and Guides; the Reserve Army and others will all be chipping in where they are needed. 

But more than any of that: if the 10,000 or so people who get this email on a weekly basis were to jot down the names and numbers of six or ten friends and relatives who may need some help, and then systematically sit down and ring them- that alone would mean up to 100,000 people contacted and helped. Those of us who can do so must do so. Your Country, but more importantly your friends and family and local community NEED YOU.