Thanks a million! Volunteers help north central London to reach one million vaccinations

Volunteer Hannah Eachus sat in a park

Islington has a vibrant voluntary sector, supported by a hidden army of volunteers. It’s one of the things that makes us unique and it’s the reason that when coronavirus hit the world, we were more prepared than most to provide support to those who needed it.

As the pandemic moved on, volunteers turned their hands to supporting the vaccination effort and two weeks ago helped to achieve the milestone of one million vaccinations in north central London. We’ve spoken to two volunteers, Hannah and Luke, about why they got involved.

Hannah Eachus volunteers as a steward twice a week with the Manor Gardens Volunteers at Bingfield Covid Vaccination Clinic. Having been furloughed for most of the year, Hannah wanted to put that time to good use. She started sewing PPE, as well as making up parcels at a local food bank before joining the vaccination centre as a volunteer mid-January.

“A vaccination centre seemed like the next place that I could be most helpful. Everyone who has volunteered has been a dream.

“It feels brilliant to go above and beyond for people, as well as to do the little things. I’ve also gained a lot of experience of observing community health care, and was able to draw upon it to gain a place at King’s University to study Midwifery in September.

“My grandad died of complications due to Covid-19 in March last year, but thanks to the miracle of modern science, it’s now a preventable disease and the rest of my family have been vaccinated because of the efforts of volunteers, the NHS and the legends at AstraZeneca, Pfizer and Moderna.”

Volunteer Luke Howard

Similarly, Luke Howard volunteered twice a week with Help on Your Doorstep at a vaccination centre.  “I was trying to find constructive activities due to a decreased workload and many in my social circles have been doing positive work – it inspired me to change.

“I’ve found the mix of positivity from other volunteers, the appreciation and excitement from those coming to get their vaccines, and the incredible professionalism of the clinical team really motivating in a period of life where I found motivation difficult.

“I also found the return to a structured format where there was communication and a defined role really motivated me on the mornings I volunteered and carried through the rest of my day. This was a real relief from difficult period and a reminder of the importance of community in keeping everyone safe.”

Before handing back the mayoral chains former Islington Mayor, Cllr Janet Burgess, visited the Business Design Centre and Hanley vaccination centre to meet and thank volunteers for their work.

The success of the Covid-19 vaccine roll-out has been in no small part thanks to volunteers and organisations coordinating efforts and for that we say, thanks a million.

There are lots of opportunities to get involved and give something back to the community – from befriending to stewarding at vaccination centres and delivering food parcels, there is something for everyone. Voluntary Action Islington has an online volunteering portal called VC Connect. You can register on VC Connect to browse volunteer opportunities in the borough and apply online.

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