Volunteers are needed to safely meet and greet vulnerable East Riding residents at their COVID-19 vaccination appointments in the weeks and months ahead, including hubs in Willerby and Hedon.
HEY Smile Foundation is working with NHS East Riding of Yorkshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and Humber, Coast and Vale Health and Care Partnership to encourage volunteers to talk to recipients, help them feel at ease and point them in the right direction as they arrive and leave.
Seven COVID-secure vaccination hubs have been set up across the East Riding as thousands of the region’s most vulnerable residents begin to attend and the vaccine is rolled out, paving the way for restrictions to hopefully be eased and allowing families and friends to reunite.
Volunteers play a vital role in the process and more than 100 have already come forward, but more are needed to ensure recipients receive a prompt but compassionate experience.
The team behind the vaccination programme, including GPs, are keen to build on the fantastic work of the voluntary sector, which has played a major role in managing the challenges of 2020.
Russell Wenn, Assistant Director of Planning and Performance Delivery at NHS East Riding of Yorkshire CCG, said: “Delivery of the COVID-19 vaccine commenced in the East Riding last week.
“As part of the local NHS, we asked HEY Smile Foundation if they could, at very short notice, find us volunteers to come to these sites and support our patients, giving them a warm welcome, friendly face, directing them to the car park and guiding them to the right place.
“While the response was fantastic and our practices are delighted and grateful for the help and support from those who are already giving up their time, we still need more volunteers.
“The urgency in getting the vaccine to the most vulnerable is well known and the support from volunteers makes this a better experience for our patients, while also really helping our practice teams. We continue to be proud to work alongside Smile and our local volunteers.”
Volunteers are asked to commit to at least one 3 to 4.5-hour session per week and some marshalling will be required outside.
A 30-minute online training session will be arranged and delivered by HEY Smile Foundation and suitable applicants will be allocated their weekly sessions and teams.
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and a high visibility vest will be provided and HEY Smile Foundation will cover expenses for travel to and from the hub and parking. Refreshments will also be provided.
Andy Barber, HEY Smile Foundation Chief Executive, said: “We’ve already had a fantastic response from volunteers in Brough and Goole, but we need even more caring and willing people to come forward as the vaccination programme progresses.
“The volunteers will not be involved in administering the vaccine in any way, but they are playing an integral role in the process and ensuring those who are receiving it remain happy and relaxed.
“Some people may feel apprehensive about vaccinations and the volunteers make things a little bit easier for them with a cheery voice, friendly smile and being there as someone to talk to.
“We’re so proud to be involved in helping to coordinate this appeal for additional volunteers and hope more people will come forward to help make a difference.”
The vaccination hubs are located in Beverley, Bridlington, Brough, Driffield, Goole, Hedon and Willerby.
Volunteer Emma Whittles, from Elloughton, said: “I’m very honoured and humbled to be part of history in the making. The over 80s are amazing.”
To complete an online expression of interest form, visit https://bit.ly/3rh0kMI
Visit https://vcse.uk/hub/Covid-19/548/Urgent-Call-for-Vaccination-Hub-Volunteers-can-you-play-your-part/417 for further information about the role.
[Sarah Shepherdson – Smile Foundation Hull & East Riding]