MORE than 1,700 hours of volunteering by British Red Cross has taken place in the mass vaccination programme at Cardiff and Vale University Health Board.
The volunteers have been supporting the roll-out of the vaccines in the region since mid-January in partnership with St John Ambulance Cymru – putting in almost 300 shifts.
They have been at the Barry, Pentwyn and University Hospital Llandough centres, providing a warm welcome and making sure that people are able to find their way around the centre and have the information they need before receiving the vaccine, allowing the clinical staff to focus on the administering of the vaccinations.
The St John’s volunteers sit with the people after having their vaccination – being first aid trained, they are able to make sure there are no adverse reactions, that the person is okay and are able to identify and administer first aid if a reaction does occur.
Lynne Cronin is one of the NHS team working on the rollout for the health board and has found the volunteers to be extremely helpful.
She said: “At the beginning we didn’t always have volunteers every day. That meant we had to release our own staff to do the meet and greet part. It depleted the number of clinicians. Having volunteers means that doesn’t slow us down. We couldn’t operate without them now.”
Katie Cooke, 39, and Jess Daly, 48, both from Cardiff, are two of the volunteers at the centres.
Ms Cooke said: “I’ve had lots of nice chats with people. Some of them are actually quite emotional about getting vaccinated. Many had barely been outside for the better part of a year. They talk about it being a privilege – about feeling really lucky. It’s been quite interesting seeing the impact the vaccine is having on people, how it makes them feel somewhat safer.
Ms Day said: “I’m thrilled to be volunteering, delighted. It feels really good to be part of a national effort and to be able to do something to contribute – I’m really excited about that. It’s really satisfying to know that we are supporting an important part of the vaccination process.
“At the vaccination centre, everyone has been incredibly welcoming. The staff were very busy but really appreciative of having volunteers there which was nice.
“I’m volunteering to make sure that meet and greet tasks get done so that highly trained skilled people can focus on the tasks that need their skills and their training, and they don’t need to marshal the queue or tell people where to sit.
“NHS staff can focus on what they need to do, they are really appreciative of our support, so it works well for everyone. It’s been great feeling like I’m doing something useful.”
St John Ambulance Cymru, Cardiff volunteer Claire Stone said: “It’s been an absolute privilege to be a part of Wales’ vaccination programme. Everything has gone smoothly so far and we’re looking forward to continuing our ongoing support of the programme across the coming weeks and months. I’ve loved working alongside volunteers at the British Red Cross. It’s been great seeing such a combined effort going towards supporting this vital programme.”