Richard Miller has been volunteering as a Covid vaccination marshal at the Royal Free recreation centre since January 2021.
Why did you decide to volunteer at a vaccination centre?
I was already volunteering at the Royal Free Hospital and had been doing meet and greets for a couple of years. This work stopped in March 2020 due to Covid and, although it restarted in September it was a bit quiet.
I’ve always enjoyed working at the Royal Free. I enjoy working with the public and I wanted to do my bit to help the fight against Covid rather than sitting at home. This keeps me very much on my toes and I’m working with a great team.
What does your role involve?
You can be a marshal in different areas, such as on the main door when people come in or in the waiting area. When you start your shift, you just sign up for what you want to do on the day – first come, first served.
What training or preparation did you receive?
We had an induction where we got shown around the centre and now I induct the new volunteers.
What’s the best thing about volunteering at a vaccination centre?
The best thing is being a part of something so big and positive to fight something that has been so bad for mankind. The collective energy we have as a team and the energy from clients is very positive.
You can grow as a person. It’s good for your confidence as you’re stepping out of your comfort zone, learning about different types of people and communication skills. Some of the pensioners that came in had not been out of the house for eight months or more and just engaging in conversation with them gives them a boost.
The centre has evolved over time and become more efficient. There are some very good leaders here.
Has anything surprised you about your experience?
Many of the vaccinators are doctors who give their time for free even though they’re exhausted. The public go out of their way to thank us – people donate food and drinks.
What would you say to someone thinking about volunteering at a vaccination centre?
Definitely give it a go! There are so many benefits. You’re in a place that has positive energy and you’re learning about people and yourself all of the time. You can progress to other opportunities within the NHS. You get fit because it keeps you on your toes. You meet a lot of other people and you might make lifelong friends.