Julie Roe

Julie Roe has been a volunteer marshal at the Islington Business Design Centre since March 2021. She’s found volunteering a great way to meet people from all walks of life and improve her communication skills. You can watch a short video on Julie’s experience as a volunteer below.

Why did you decide to volunteer at a vaccination centre?

During lockdown I greatly missed speaking to people, so when centres opened, I wanted to be part of the huge vaccination challenge to help life get back to normal. I was looking forward to taking on a new challenge and doing something different.

I’m a self-employed researcher, so I can fit my shifts in around that. Working at Business Design Centre means I can use public transport, which is a lot easier if, like me, you don’t have your own transport. 

What does your role involve?

I came into the vaccination centre with an open mind, not knowing what to expect.

My roles have been varied and have involved checking people in, helping maintain a flow of people through the centre, running an organised seated waiting area and directing people to vaccinators. We also deal with ad hoc requests from staff members and are aware and on hand for people needing assistance or questions answered.

I volunteer at the centre three to four times a week and can book my own slots through the NHS volunteer roster. 

What training/preparation did you receive?

Marshals are given yellow lanyards and jackets. Each day starts with a briefing introducing the teams and covers health and safety. We are told which vaccine is being given and how many vaccinations are booked in for the day. Marshals are given a tour of the vaccination route and allocated roles. At the end of each shift, we explain our roles to the new marshals.

What’s the best thing about volunteering at a vaccination centre?

I love working here! Every day is different, and we’re able to adapt our roles and try new things. When we make suggestions for improvements they are listened to and taken on board.

The centre evokes positivity and there is great teamwork. Everybody’s helpful with each other and mindful of looking for opportunities to help. 

Working with people of all ages and from all walks of life, I’ve learnt to adapt my communication style and to think differently about things. Looking people in the eye, I can tell if someone is nervous, and help them feel more comfortable. It’s made me kinder and more patient with people.

Some people coming for their vaccination haven’t left their homes in a year and they get quite emotional. It makes you realise how important this day is for them and the world around them. I’ve found that quite moving. 

Has anything surprised you about your experience?

I spent 25 years working in banking and never in a million years did I think I’d ever be working in a vaccination centre!

I have never met so many happy people! I’m impressed with the way the whole system has adapted week to week, month to month and how flexible and generous people are with their time. 

What would you say to someone thinking about volunteering at a vaccination centre?

It’s an excellent experience − don’t hesitate to give it a try! Everyone can do something to make a difference.

Would you like to volunteer in a vaccination centre? Find out more on our volunteering page.