WE have been on duty this week with volunteers at two vaccination centres to find out what the thousands who have signed up to join our Jabs Army will be asked to do.
We discovered that you don’t need any experience, just bags of enthusiasm and a friendly face.
⚠️ Read our coronavirus live blog for the latest news & updates
Jabs Army volunteers outside Danbury Medical Centre, near Chelmsford, EssexCredit: News Group Newspapers Ltd
Volunteer Lexie Lawrence, 18, said: ‘You have some purpose in all of this chaos. It’s uplifting’Credit: News Group Newspapers Ltd
Yesterday, the number of readers of The Sun to have already answered our call for Steward Volunteers reached 17,500.
As patients arrived in the car park at Danbury Medical Centre, near Chelmsford, Essex, the first person they met was 18-year-old Lexie Lawrence, who should have been studying history this week.
But with her university closed because of the pandemic, she was playing her part in history — as a volunteer in Britain’s biggest vaccine programme.
Lexie, who helped drivers to park, said: “For quite a number of the older people having the vaccine, this will be the first time they have been out of the house since March.
“They are nervous and need to see a friendly face to reassure them everything is going to be alright.”
She added: “If you’re thinking about volunteering — do it.
How to sign up
VOLUNTEERS for the Jabs Army are being asked to first register online at nhsvolunteerresponders.org.uk
You will then receive an email with log-in details to sign up online.
Finally, you will be asked to download the GoodSAM app on a smartphone which will match you to a role in your area.
Services will be opening in the coming days and weeks, with different areas up and running at different times, so you might not be required on site for some weeks. Not everyone who signs up will need to be called upon.
You need to commit to only two six-hour shifts a month at a vaccination service, and no prior experience or qualifications are required.
You will work as part of a team that will include NHS staff and volunteers. The Royal Voluntary Service will conduct appropriate background checks.
Volunteer Ondri Kuhl was finding wheelchairs for arrivals who need themCredit: News Group Newspapers Ltd
“There’s so much to gain from it and nothing to lose.
“You’re helping all these people have their freedom.
“You have some purpose in all of this chaos. It’s uplifting.”
Meanwhile, fellow volunteer Ondri Kuhl was finding wheelchairs for arrivals who need them before helping them to reception, where retired teacher Lindsey Sharp takes over.
The centre is currently open three days a week for jabs.
Once the new Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine is rolled out, it is likely to be seven days.
Mum-of-two Mandy Hessing, 57, is already working on a rota from a Danbury Coronavirus Volunteer Group list of nearly 200 to cover the planned increase in opening hours.
To anyone worried they will be at risk of catching Covid while volunteering at a vaccine centre, Mandy said: “I have no qualms whatsoever.
“I have more worry about going into the Co-op and Tesco Express doing my shopping than I do coming here.
“Everything has been risk-assessed.
“There’s lots of sanitiser, we all wear masks and everything is socially distanced.
“There is no overcrowding.”
Mum-of-two Mandy Hessing reassures everyone who feels they could be at risk ‘I have more worry about going into the Co-op and Tesco Express doing my shopping’Credit: News Group Newspapers Ltd
Keith Woodcock adds ‘I actually get an inner warmth seeing all these wonderful people coming to get their injections’Credit: News Group Newspapers Ltd
In nearby Brentwood, those arriving for their jab at the leisure centre are met by cheery Keith Woodcock.
Keith, 65, who took up volunteering after being made redundant from his insurance job, said: “Well done to The Sun for trying to get more people helping out.
“Because I have osteoarthritis and can’t move around as well as I used to, I tend to volunteer for the doorman duty. The hall is very cold but I actually get an inner warmth seeing all these wonderful people coming to get their injections. It’s fantastic.”
GOT a story? RING The Sun on 0207 782 4104 or WHATSAPP on 07423720250 or EMAIL [email protected]