We’re loving hearing about all the wonderful and impactful stories from people that are helping with Manchester’s Covid-19 vaccination programme. This week’s story comes from Ally Elliot:
Why did you sign up to volunteer at the vaccination sites, and where did you hear about this?
I took my elderly mum for her first jab at the end of December and it was a very emotional experience; so many older people being given this incredible opportunity to start to get their lives back!
I noticed that many non-clinical staff were involved in that particular clinic, so as soon as I heard that many more vaccination centres were being set up all around the country I decided I wanted to offer my support - I was aware that our NHS staff is under a lot of pressure and have been absolutely amazing, so in some way I really wanted to help.
I contacted a family member who’s a GP and asked him how I could get involved and he sent me the link to the Manchester Community volunteering site.
Where and how have you been helping?
I’ve only done a few sessions so far (at Woodhouse Park Lifestyle Centre) but will continue to volunteer for as long as necessary. I asked if I could work outside as I knew I’d feel more comfortable doing that kind of role ... so I stood at the main entrance, meeting and greeting people as they arrived. I asked them all if they’d kindly use hand sanitiser when they went inside, then told them they’d then be shown where to go.
Fortunately there weren’t any long queues ... if they had to wait at all it was literally only for 1-2 minutes to ensure everyone kept a safe distance apart. If anyone required a wheelchair I would ask one of the other volunteers to please bring one outside for them.
Are you given everything you need to do your job, and do you feel safe and supported?
We’re all given high vis waistcoats or jackets to wear, medical face masks (rather than our own so we look more ‘official’) and whistles in case we need to attract urgent attention. There are hot drinks, cupasoups, sandwiches and fruit in the staff room.
A couple of times during the afternoon I was asked if I was ok or if I needed anything. We can take a break whenever we need one .. there’s always another volunteer who can step in whilst you’re taking a brief time-out.
How have you found your help and presence to be received by those receiving the vaccine?
It’s an absolute privilege to be able to help and so many of those arriving were literally thrilled to have been offered a vaccination. One lady said it was the first time she’d been out since last March and she was SO excited!
I was asked a few common questions such as where they needed to go, how long they’d be, can their carer go inside with them - and I got the overall impression that they really welcomed someone greeting them as they arrived.
What would you tell someone who is thinking of getting involved, any tips or advice?
If you want to be a volunteer outside (either standing at the main entrance or directing traffic in the car park) then wear warm layers so you don’t feel cold ... two pairs of socks are essential to trap the warm air to prevent cold feet!
One of the other volunteers also gave me some hand warmers to put inside my gloves and they were great .. so I’d also recommend those for people like me who do feel the cold.
To see people’s gratitude at receiving their vaccinations is worth every minute of standing outside! Don’t forget to bring a one pound coin if you want to lock your bag in a locker.
Ally also shared this story:
I want to share a story that really touched my heart on my first shift.
I was standing outside the main doors (meeting and greeting people who had come for their appointments for their first jabs).
I noticed a taxi driver pull up outside and he started to help a lady into her wheelchair; he then beckoned me over and told me that the lady was 94 years old and a little bit confused. He also mentioned that she only had enough money for a taxi one-way so he hadn’t charged her because he wanted her to use the money she had for her taxi ride home!
How heartwarming that in times of crisis people are willing to do good for others and help out ... it made me reflect and realise that we’re all in this together, and want to help as much as we possibly can.
Share your stories about vaccination volunteering...
We’d love to hear your stories or accounts of vaccine volunteering.
You can share these directly with us in writing, video or other visual formats; or speak directly with the team who are happy to capture these on your behalf by telephone: 0161 830 4770 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can also mention us in your posts on social media with @VolunteeringMCR, and we'll pick them up.
We'll be writing and sharing these stories regularly; here, via social media, and on our dedicated Manchester Kindness Stories page.
We look forward to hearing from you!