Susan signed up as a volunteer at her local vaccination centre when she was furloughed from her day job.
Susan explains why she decided to volunteer and her message to anyone who is thinking about becoming a volunteer.
Why did you decide to volunteer at a vaccination centre?
I was furloughed from my job in Primark. I saw an article in the newspaper asking for volunteers and I thought it would be a lovely opportunity to help, even if I was just directing people to the vaccination area, I knew it would free up other people to do the more qualified tasks.
What does your role involve?
The volunteering roles are so varied so I never knew until I arrived for my shift what my role would be for that day. I could be outside greeting people as they arrived, checking they had an appointment and ticking them off the booking list, or I could be at the door taking their temperature and giving them hand sanitiser and any relevant leaflets, before showing them to the assessor to be consented. Sometimes I would be in the area where clients wait to be shown through to the next free vaccinator.
There is also a post-vaccination area where patients would be asked to wait if they are driving/cycling or just need watching over for a while. All of these areas have chairs that need to be cleaned after every use so that keeps volunteers busy too. With so many different things to do I was never bored.
What training/preparation did you receive?
Training and preparation began on my first shift. After filling out some paperwork I was shown around the different areas and told where to go if the fire alarm went off and where the emergency resuscitation equipment was kept in case it was needed. I was told what happened in each area and given the chance to ask as many questions as I liked. Then I was shown the area that I would be helping in on that shift. After making sure I was happy and clear on my role my first shift began. In every new area I went to I was always told my role, so it was always clear to me what I was doing.
Also, during a quiet time, they would have a “huddle”. That’s where everyone gets together and is told about any new practices or brings up any problems or safety issues that might have arisen.
What’s the best thing about volunteering at a vaccination centre?
The best thing about volunteering at a vaccination centre is meeting and helping so many lovely people. All the staff and volunteers have a common bond – to help stop the spread of COVID, keep people safe and get life back to normal eventually. The fact that we have vaccines is a miracle in itself and to help people take that step to a better safer future is an amazing thing. I am so proud to be a part of that.
Has anything surprised you about your experience?
Lots of things surprised me about my experience. The vaccinators, consenters, team/clinical leaders and volunteers all work together as a team. Everyone helped each other and it really surprised me how such a large group of strangers got along so well together. They are a great bunch of people! The patients were happy to be getting vaccinated, one or two even cried tears of joy. And the final thing that surprised me was how much I enjoyed the whole experience, and still am months after my first volunteer shift.
What would you say to someone thinking about volunteering at a vaccination centre?
If you are thinking of volunteering at a vaccination centre please give it a try. Doing anything new can be scary but no one expects you to know what you are doing. You will be shown what to do and everyone is so friendly. I can almost guarantee if you do just one small shift you will look forward to doing more. Whilst on furlough I was lucky enough to be able to volunteer for five days a week (four hour shifts every day) for three months.
Now that I’ve returned to work I can’t do those five days anymore but I am doing some weekend shifts in vaccination centres near to my home. That’s how much I love it and I think you will too.
Would you like to volunteer in a vaccination centre? Find out more on our volunteering page.