Incredible Wakefield NHS volunteer praised for clocking up 5,200 hours on duty helping others during lockdown
A volunteer from Ossett has been praised for his work in helping others, after clocking up more than 5,200 hours on duty as an NHS volunteer.
Martin Dearnley, 64, was one of thousands of people to step forward as an NHS Volunteer Responder during the first lockdown last year.
While he had initially hoped to help with a few basic tasks, he and wife Linda have since clocked up thousands of hours on duty, and admits that volunteering has become almost a full time job.
He said: “When I heard the government announcement last year calling for volunteers to support those in need throughout the crisis I signed up immediately, and have been more or less a full-time NHS Volunteer Responder ever since.
“I retired from sales three years ago and so I keep the GoodSAM app on-duty all day every day.
“People can be referred by their GP or local authority or they can refer themselves. If they’re self isolating they clearly can’t get out or mix with people.
“Many thousands of people put themselves forward to volunteer.”
NHS Volunteer Responders coordinate their work via an app on their phones, which notifies them when a person is in need and, if they choose to accept the task, offers a phone number to contact for further information.
Calls can involve anything from picking up a prescription or doing a food shop to simply checking in and offering a friendly chat to someone who is feeling isolated.
Since signing up as a volunteer last March, Martin, who lives in Ossett, says he has answered almost 500 of these calls, issued at all times of day or night.
He said: “Myself and my wife Linda are retired, it gives us something to do. I think we need some motivation to do something.
“It’s been a really good thing for us to do. Some people really do need help. They can’t go out, or are too ill to leave their home.”
Martin's work has been highlighted by son Chris, who became aware of Martin's impressive volunteering time after noticing his dad's phone frequently buzzing.
He said: "Whenever I'm with my dad his phone goes off for this volunteering. I asked how many he'd done and he said about 5,000 hours.
"I just wanted a bit of awareness of the people doing this. The volunteering aspect of the last 12 months is hugely significant.
"They've helped the people who are housebound and vulnerable."
Since the launch of the NHS Volunteer Responder scheme, 437,000 volunteers have helped with more than 1.5 million jobs and tasks.