Many people have started volunteering as stewards to help support poeple when they arrive for their vaccination, but more are needed!
The largest vaccination programme in NHS history is under way and voluntary and community organisations across the borough are working together to support the rollout.
Since January, dozens of people in Islington have started volunteering as stewards. Volunteer stewards can assist at different clinics in Islington to ensure a smooth and safe flow throughout the Vaccine Clinics. This may include answering questions on what will happen (not medical questions), guiding them to appropriate areas or just giving a friendly smile and allowing them to share a story.
Sarah Benioff, director at Islington Giving is one of the volunteer stewards. Here’s her experience:
I have been volunteering for years with various local organisations, but as with many people over this past year, I felt strongly that I wanted to help address the effects of the pandemic on my local community. I heard that volunteer vaccine stewards were needed for the main Primary Care Centres, and volunteers were being recruited and inducted by local charities Help on Your Doorstep, Age UK Islington, and Manor Gardens, with coordinating support from Voluntary Action Islington.
The whole experience has been incredibly rewarding and uplifting
I got in touch with Help on Your Doorstep and after filling in a simple application form, I was volunteering within a week. Help on Your Doorstep held a short zoom induction session to give volunteers an idea of what was involved. The Vaccination Clinics are running seven days per week, 12 hours per day, and volunteers can choose any three-hour shift they like at either of the two centres. (Subsequent local vaccine sites have now opened.) I have chosen to volunteer every week for three hours, as that works well with my day job and family commitments.
The volunteer stewarding itself is very straightforward. Volunteers (usually four per shift) are greeted by staff at the centres at the start of their shift, introduced around, and the different volunteer roles are explained. Volunteers work inside the clinic, welcoming and directing people, managing queues, wiping down and disinfecting chairs after use, and most importantly, chatting with people, answering questions and generally being a friendly and engaging presence for those who may be feeling anxious. There is usually at least one volunteer working outside the clinic as well, managing the queues. Volunteers are usually on their feet for the entire shift, and sometimes running around a bit. The clinics – though busy and sometimes hectic – are extremely well organised and run like clockwork, with staff and volunteers working seamlessly together.
The whole experience has been incredibly rewarding and uplifting, and it is wonderful to feel you are playing a small part in enabling the national vaccine roll-out bringing hope to so many people.
For more information on becoming a volunteer visit VAI’s website.
We’ve created a Resources Hub where you can find information and resources during the third lockdown. If you’re feeling down and are struggling to keep positive, there you will find resources from partner organisations that can help you take care of your wellbeing. Or if you’d like to help, partner organisations across the borough have great volunteering opportunities available that we will promote there as well.