Vaccine Volunteers

Maddy Radburn, secretary of the Windrush Patients Group who is currently co-ordinating the volunteer rotas for the Covid-19 Pfizer vaccinations at the Windrush Health Centre in Witney, reveals how indispensable this volunteer ‘army’ is proving to be…

As ever, Witney is stepping up to the plate. With the need for a mass vaccination programme, and the huge pressure which that was going to put on the professional NHS staff, the local practices turned to their patients’ groups to help out. As a result we have wonderful people working together who are patients at the three Witney practices – the Windrush, the Nuffield, and Cogges – plus the Eynsham practice (with Long Hanborough). There are around 80 names on the list – some of whom are waiting for their second vaccination before they take part with us. This week (beginning February 8) we are filling 78 volunteering slots during the ten clinics.

The volunteers come from a wide variety of backgrounds. Some own businesses which are in abeyance at the moment, some are furloughed, some are seconded from their places of work, some are part-time and some are retired and keen to be of help to their local communities.

I co-ordinate the rotas for the Pfizer vaccinations which all take place at the Windrush Health Centre. These super volunteers work in two-and-a-half hour shifts. They may be managing the queue outside, checking names against the vaccine list on entry to the building, guiding the patients through the building or keeping them company in the waiting room on the way in and on the way out (especially during the 15-minute Pfizer wait post-vaccination).

In addition to this, some of them are also volunteering at their own practices where other Covid vaccines can be given without the need for the same precautions.

The vast majority of patients coming for their vaccines are very appreciative of the work being done. It is not easy to be cheerful when the queue lengthens and it is cold and wet outside! But they know it is part of the long walk to freedom.

Things will be different in a few weeks’ time when a number of our volunteers return to work and are not as freely available as they are at the moment. We will meet that when we come to it and hope that fresh names can come onto the rotas to see us through.

What are the best things about volunteering we asked our band of helpers? The answers – making new friends, meeting new people, making a difference and helping us all towards the “new normal”.