As we face this crisis, there are many tales from all over the country of extraordinary individual acts of kindness and communities banding together to support others. But this won’t be enough as Matt Hancock acknowledged last night. The Health Secretary said the country will need help to deliver medicines and food and called for 250,000 volunteers to help meet the needs of our country during this unprecedented peacetime crisis.
There are many thousands of educated young undergrads coming down from university early, as well as thousands of students who will not be taking A Levels this summer. At the moment, there is no market for them in the usual holiday jobs.
They should therefore be offered the chance to be part of the solution. Young people are not, as they are often called, ‘snowflakes.’ They have the skills to help the country at this time of need.
The easy and obvious solution is to create a ‘Volunteer Care Corps’ similar to the Peace Corps and other such similar bodies. A corps of young volunteers could undertake the delivery and health support roles the Health Secretary mentioned, but could easily be extended to supporting those who are providing care for the children of front-line key workers , or any of the numerous other needs which will require assistance.
Clearly there will need to be training, supervision and the usual checks, and the young people will need some form of recognition. But none of this is should be beyond our capability to establish a Care Corps. The sooner this starts the sooner the young people can be trained and ready to help tackle this unprecedented public health crisis.
Being a part of the Volunteer Care Corps would motivate young people in the hour of our country’s need. It will relieve pressure on the armed forces and local authorities whose expertise are needed elsewhere, as well as the NHS and care system. The challenge we face is about the future of our country and we should not be afraid to trust those who will be its future.