Where did you hear about this volunteering?
I heard about volunteering from a friend who was already volunteering at the Wythenshawe vaccination site before Christmas.
Where and how have you been helping?
I have mainly been at Wythenshawe but also the Jaine Centre, Irish Centre and Plant Hill, all with a different feel and experience.
I have mainly been on meet and greet but also ‘inside’ and car park duties.
Are you given everything you need to do your job, and do you feel safe and supported?
I have what I need and learning about supporting and being supported by other volunteers who often have professional experience.
Any tips for someone thinking of getting involved?
Tips for other volunteers include, dress for all weathers! Keep smiling even though it cant be seen behind the mask...folks know you are!
Peter also shared this account about what it is like to help out at a vaccination site:
The people who come for vaccinations have changed, before Christmas we had an older age group, many with sensory or physical impairments. Some felt physically weak not having had outdoor exercise for months. Many brought a lot of anxiety, having not been out of their homes since lockdown or spoken to others outside small friendship circles. One man had not spoken to anyone face to face since his wife had died in autumn.
Many attending were born before the NHS was created in July 1948. You only need to be over 73 to have entered a world without free maternity care, worry about the cost of seeing a doctor or having an operation, a world without free ambulances or A&E Departments. The first mass vaccinations did not happen until the early 1940’s (for diphtheria) and effectively did not roll out until after the establishment of the NHS.
It was humbling how grateful many were. Almost everyone felt relief and left feeling lighter and more hopeful. One or two shed tears of relief.
As the age profile reduced and we gained experience, the numbers going through increased. Fewer people needed assistance, and we learnt to recognise those in need earlier. We could support walking or wheeling someone through the whole process if agitated, anxious, had an impairment or wanted an arm to lean on. It is a delicate intervention offering support and yet to respect the individuals autonomy. After volunteering a few times I still needed to remind myself that this new ‘normal’ (for me), process was scarey, potentially intimidating and anxiety provoking for many.
I have felt great when I have supported an anxious soul and they have agreed the vaccine, and helpless after talking to someone with social anxiety who, following waiting in a queue for 10-15 minutes could not bring themselves to come into the centre.
We have just started delivering 2nd vaccines. It is a split in the shift between health professionals and our over 75’s. They know what to expect, are rarely as anxious, arrive more cheerful and ready to chat...and we still need to be vigilant about sanitising and masks.
20 million vaccines so far, Staff and volunteers little cogs in this enormous NHS machine. It is very satisfying to be a part of it, having been brought into the world by the NHS and having my life saved, more than once by the NHS, I am happy to be able to give a little back.
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!