This week we've sent a thank you message and 1000 Easter eggs to staff and volunteers in vaccination centres up and down the country to show our support for the great effort to vaccinate our nation.
Hollie and Julie tell us what it's like to be volunteering as part of the UK Vaccination Programme.
Julie Niven, Chess Communications Lead and St John Ambulance Volunteer
Last December there was a national call for vaccination volunteers and I thought, why not get out and do something positive. I applied to St John Ambulance, and after an interview and a hefty dose of online and classroom training I was given my green volunteer t-shirt and deployed to the vaccination centres! I've found myself in places I never imagined I'd be... Manchester United VIP suite, Chester Racecourse, Etihad National Tennis Centre and AstraZeneca's former science facility at Alderley Park.
The centres run like clockwork and what you do on the day can be different each time, I can be directing traffic, managing parking, meet and greet, admin and even vaccinating too! A friendly smile and a warm welcome is all that's needed, everyone has been so very grateful to get the vaccine. Working in the team comes with lots of laughs and a few tears of joy too, each shift is covered by a range of workers from the NHS, volunteer groups, firefighters, and St John - by the end of a 6 hour shift you feel like old friends and know you've achieved something special together. It's a real privilege to be involved.
Hollie Jervis, Chess Partner Experience Leader and Communities 1st Volunteer
I’m using my experience from the world of entertainment and my background from Chess to bring a little sunshine to my volunteer duties at the St Albans vaccination site!
Despite having a range of sites near us, I work at one of the smaller pharmacy sites in St Albans with Communities 1st. It’s run by a small team on a residential estate which has unique challenges with traffic and parking. It meant in the early days there was a lot of support for those with mobility issues. I have to keep moving on the 5-hour shifts, so you’ll often find me on car-check in duty, welcoming each car and giving them the low down on where to go, how we work and if we have any delays.
They are usually greeted by my ‘dancing’ to an appropriate decade of music, depending on which age group we are working with. It’s also not gone unnoticed by the residents over-looking the centre with many waving, becoming friendly faces as the weeks go on as they go for a walk. With many nervous and anxious patients, if my bad attempt to audition for ‘Strictly ‘ on the way into the site makes them smile, and giving them calm and concise instruction puts their mind at ease, I’ll keep dancing til everyone in St Albans is vaccinated!