A total of 1,300 volunteers have come forward so far to answer the call for carers to look after some of Devon’s most vulnerable residents during the coronavirus pandemic.

Devon County Council said they included vets, plumbers, soldiers, hairdressers, builders, students, artists and estate agents had offered their services.

It follows an urgent county wide appeal to recruit healthcare assistants – a vital new role supporting social care providers and the NHS.

The registrations have come from people aged 16 to 65, some of whom are former health care professionals while others have little or no experience in health or care.

But despite their varying backgrounds they all want to do their bit to help people and the NHS.

A chef from Exmouth said: “This is a tough time for everyone. I’m lucky that I’m fit and healthy. I’m ready to step up and help those who need it most.”

Even if you have no experience in health and care, everyone has something to offer or skills that could be put to good use.

A young mum from Tiverton, eager to re-enter the workplace after bringing up her children, said: “I am a mother of two and I am ready and willing to learn new skills to help our NHS in this time of national crisis.”

Some applicants admitted that they had long harboured a desire to enter the health sector, and coronavirus had prompted them to act.

“I just want to help at this crazy time,” said a beautician from Exeter. “I always wanted to work for the NHS but never had enough courage to start and do something about it until now.”

Some applicants have jobs to go back to, and one teacher said ‘it didn’t feel right’ sitting at home and she ‘wanted to do her bit’, while an estate agent wanted to ‘ease the stress’ of care and health workers.

One young man from Plymouth said: “I don’t want to sit around waiting for this virus to just disappear. It won’t happen if people like me choose to sit at home. So, I’d like to join the fight.”

Another applicant is an asylum seeker who said they are ‘willing to work, volunteer or whatever is needed’ because of what the country had done to safeguard his family.

Many applicants aren’t working – some have lost their jobs and not entitled to government support or are on zero-hours contracts.

Each successful recruit will receive three-day fast-track training before being deployed to a variety of settings.

These include people’s homes, hospitals and care homes, where they will be supporting people with their personal care needs including eating, drinking and washing. This will reduce the pressure on existing health and care staff.

If you want to make a difference and have a chance to help others please register your details at https://www.proudtocaredevon.org.uk.