The restrictions in place at time of writing still preclude ESW from implementing our walks programme however the Government “Road Map” gives us cause for optimism that our group walks will recommence in the near future. We will publish details on our website please see below.
In the meantime our former Chair has given us an insight into another form of volunteering in the community. I hope you will enjoy Judy’s article.
(ESW Publicity Officer)
I’m writing this at the beginning of March but by the time many of you read this, you will already have been vaccinated and will know much of what I’m writing about. For three years I was the Chair of East Surrey Walkers (the local branch of the Ramblers Association) but that finished in November.
I was looking for other ways to help the community, and as we came into our third lockdown in December we could no longer walk in groups. However the good news was that the vaccination rollout was due to start very soon and I thought maybe I could help with that although I was not medically trained.
While St John Ambulance are helping in the mass vaccination centres, the application process for that takes about 3 months (I’m still going through that). However a local friend mentioned that the Westway Centre (formerly the Douglas Brunton Centre) was going to be a GP led vaccination centre and suggested that I contact them.
I had to fill out an application form with a couple of references and a DBS check (like the old criminal record check). Within a few days we were contacted by the volunteer co-ordinator who is organising the rotas at the Centre and on 29 January my wife and I did our first four-hour shift.
By now many of you may already have attended there and will know that it is very well organised. There are the NHS employed staff who man the computers where you check in, the nurses who administer the vaccines, and there is always a doctor on duty in case of any adverse reactions of which there have been none of any significance.
The volunteer group that I am part of have four people on duty for each 4-hour shift: the first one greets you at the door and gives you some hand sanitiser before directing you on to the next. The second helps you check in and then guides you to the next available nurse for the vaccination. The third and fourth man the chairs where you sit for 15 minutes (if you have the Pfizer injection) and make sure all the chairs are cleaned after use. They also make sure you check out (this is to ensure that you are on the system which will guarantee that you are called for the second vaccination) and regulate the one way system.
The Centre usually operates on 12 hour days, at the moment either three or four days a week. Between 500-800 people can be vaccinated each day and by 28thFebruary, they had vaccinated 15,000 people.
There is a great sense of teamwork and purpose at the Centre and it is a pleasure to be part of it. Quite a few of the vaccinees are anxious about the process and may have been self-isolating, sometimes for a whole year, and it is a privilege to be able to help them and relieve some of their concerns. Most people are very grateful to everyone at the Centre for what is being done and express how impressed they are with the whole system. The whole process is handled so well that it feels as safe as it possibly could in these difficult times – I personally feel safer there than I do shopping at the supermarket.
So walking in groups with my friends in East Surrey Walkers is out at the moment, but within weeks we will be able to re-start our group walks – if you’ve enjoyed getting out into the countryside during lockdown, come and give our group walks a go – watch our website at https://www.eastsurreywalkers.org.uk/ for information.