University of Portsmouth staff volunteer for frontline services during coronavirus pandemic

Staff members

University staff are giving up their time to help frontline services in the national effort against the coronavirus pandemic

  • 23 April 2020
  • 5 min read

Members of University staff are giving up their time to help frontline services in the national effort against the coronavirus pandemic - including as an NHS Volunteer and a Special Constable.

Dan Rowe - NHS Volunteer Responder

The NHS received around 750,000 applicants from their call out for NHS Volunteer Responders in March. Dan Rowe, a caretaker from Estates and Campus Services was one of them.

Dan was verified by the Royal Volunteering Service at the beginning of April and takes calls from patients to make sure they’re okay and transports medication between hospitals and pharmacies.

Dan is active on the mobile app, GoodSAM Responder. When ‘on duty’ volunteers get alerts for jobs which they can accept or decline depending on their availability. If a job is accepted, the responder is sent a description within the app, which for Dan is usually to speak with a member of the public who requires support.

So far Dan has logged several hundred hours on duty, ready to offer support when needed. During his calls with individuals, Dan makes sure they are keeping active, are able to get their shopping and checks whether they are in contact with family and friends to ensure they are both mentally and physically well.

I may be the only person that they have a conversation with all day so it's important to me that I leave the conversation with the individual happy: one laugh within the call and I'll see it as a success.

Dan Rowe, NHS Volunteer Responder

Dan Rowe

Dan Rowe from Estates and Campus Services

Dan said “Ultimately, this is a big adjustment for a lot of people, including myself, so I do assure them that they are not alone and relate to them as best I can using my own personal experiences of being in lockdown. 

“It’s not easy hearing someone is on their own and lonely, but it is definitely good for my own mental health knowing I am doing my bit and I have that sense of achievement or pride that my call has potentially made that person’s day. I may be the only person they have a conversation with all day so it's important to me that I leave the conversation with the individual happy; one laugh within the call and I'll see it as a success.”

Stuart Graves - Special Constable

Stuart, who is a Service Delivery Manager for Information Services, originally started volunteering for the police in 2000 as a Special Constable. Special Constables are volunteers who work alongside regular officers and have the same powers and duties. He wanted to be in the police since he was a child, and support his community. 

Stuart would normally have been working with the Response and Patrol team in Portsmouth, responding to 999 calls across the city - but due to the pandemic he’s now been reassigned to the Southsea Neighbourhood Team. The team carries out high visibility patrols to reassure the community and assist with social distancing measures, to reduce the spread of coronavirus and relieve pressure on the NHS. 

I have been very impressed and inspired by how hard the community is working to follow the social distancing guidelines in order to save lives.

Stuart Graves, Special Constable 

Stuart Graves

Stuart Graves from Information Services

Volunteering has provided Stuart with valuable new skills and experiences, enabling him to challenge himself in the most demanding situations. He said: “I get a tremendous sense of pride working with my colleagues in the Police Force and working at the University of Portsmouth, who have been very supportive of me in this second role. While on patrol I have been very impressed and inspired by how hard the community is working to follow the social distancing guidelines in order to save lives.”

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