The volunteer centre has received just shy of 1500 expressions of interest from people that want to support local vaccination sites in Manchester. This marks what is going to be a mammoth effort in the city in the coming weeks and months; and stands as a shining example of how kindness and giving of time and energy is eventually going to pull us out of all of this (together).
A quick glance at local press and social media already shows the significant and positive impact made by volunteers who have been deployed to vaccine sites across Manchester, and in the coming weeks we’ll be sharing the experiences and stories of people that are key to powering all of this.
The first in our series of experiences and stories of vaccination volunteering comes from Eileen Jackson:
Why did you sign up to volunteer at the vaccination sites, and where did you hear about this?
The first centre to open (in Wythenshawe) is just up the road from where I live, it’s my community, and I want to help to get it back to normal as quickly as possible. Supporting the rollout of the vaccination programme is the way to do this.
An emergency call out via email came through the health network, and there was a link to the volunteer centre website to sign up.
Where and how have you been helping?
I have been volunteering at the Lifestyle Centre on Portway, Wythenshawe. I started during the first week of opening. At the time of writing I have done 6 sessions.
The first couple of days were setting systems up and finding out what worked, and what didn't. Definitely a learning experience for everyone.
As far as the public were concerned everything was perfect, as it should be. This is definitely a team effort.
Eileen Jackson (left) with Councillor Susan Cooley.
Are you given everything you need to do your job, and do you feel safe and supported?
Warm clothing is given, which is really important particularly for those volunteers working outside, all volunteers wear hi vis so members of the public can easily identify them.
I think we have now got the Centre working efficiently, this has been a matter of trial, error and team work. Every centre will be different, so it is important to be able to adapt quickly to changing circumstances.
I feel very safe and supported, and I have found a role that suits me, which is important - it would be good to have a very regular routine, but not knowing when the vaccine is arriving means that this is not possible at the moment.
How have you found your help and presence to be received by those receiving the vaccine?
It has been a privilege to volunteer particularly as this is my local centre. There have been lots of emotional responses from people coming for their jabs. It is a very humbling but positive experience.
This week I saw quite a few friends and a couple of my own family when they visited the vaccination site.
What would you tell someone who is thinking of getting involved, any tips or advice?
Wear lots of layers of clothing, particularly warm socks and good shoes - you will be on your feet a lot.
You may also want to take your own cup for refreshments - and make sure you take breaks regularly.
Be aware that it is an emotional experience for those coming for their vaccine, and even be prepared to cry or become emotional yourself.
Some people visiting the vaccine sites are very frail and may have sight or hearing impairments, and you may have to offer support such as pushing a wheelchair, calling for taxis etc.
Make sure you are familiar with the whole building, the setup may change.
SMILE and be HAPPY it's an amazing and life affirming thing to do.
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: email@example.com.
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!