SIGN UP: For full details or to register as a steward volunteer visit www.nhsvolunteerresponders.org.uk
With the crucial booster phase of the largest vaccination programme in NHS history under way, the NHS Volunteer Responders are urgently calling for more steward volunteers in Yorkshire to provide support at local vaccination sites.
There is an increasingly high demand for volunteer help as millions of vital COVID-19 booster jabs are delivered to the over 50s and the most vulnerable in our communities.
Steward volunteers work alongside NHS staff to support the efficient and safe movement of patients through vaccination sites, ensuring social distancing measures are in place and identifying people who require extra support.
They ease pressures on hard-working clinical staff and are set to be a valuable asset to the NHS as the change of seasons brings the additional difficulties of flu this winter.
The following sites are among those looking for steward volunteers in the local area:
Stainforth Long Toft Sports Hall (adjacent to Long Toft Primary School), Church Road, Stainforth, DN7 5AB
Community Pharmacy Vaccination Centre, Heeley Parish Church, 151 Gleadless Road, S2 3AE
Jacobs Well (temporary cabins outside), Nelson Street, Bradford, BD1 5AX
The Priory Medical Centre, Cornlands Road, Acomb, York, YO24 3WX
Batley and Spen Vaccination Centre, 1 Whitaker Street, Batley, WF17 5AQ.
People interested are asked to go to www.nhsvolunteerresponders.org.uk to sign up as a steward volunteer. Shifts are flexible and are booked via the GoodSAM mobile app, so volunteers have freedom to choose their shifts.
Expenses are covered, no experience or qualifications are required and a full briefing is provided on site.
Sam Ward, director of services and deputy CEO of Royal Voluntary Service said: “The extraordinary support of volunteers has already helped the NHS to deliver vaccinations to 80 per cent of adults, but the job is not done yet.
“Any time you can offer as a steward volunteer will ease pressures on your local NHS staff and will make an invaluable difference to the vaccine rollout. Join us and together we can save lives this winter.”
Jasbir Bangerh, 51, a steward volunteer from Leeds said: “I have been doing whatever I can to help since the start of the pandemic so when the opportunity arose to support the vaccine rollout as a steward volunteer I had to get involved. We sadly lost a neighbour last year and I want to help keep people here.
“I also love the NHS and I think if you have the opportunity to give back, you should do it. NHS staff have worked so hard for so long to keep us safe and I feel compelled to support them in any way I can.
“We have a word in Punjabi, ‘seva’, which translates as ‘the service of others, for the welfare of all, done freely, willingly and with humility’ and that is very important to me.”
NHS Volunteer Responders is commissioned by NHS England/Improvement and provided by RVS and GoodSAM.
For more details or to register as a steward volunteer, please visit www.nhsvolunteerresponders.org.uk
CASE STUDY 1:
‘I really felt compelled to support the NHS with this monumental rollout’
Catherine McCluskey moved to Bradford to look after her grandchildren, after retiring from her career as an NHS nurse.
Catherine now volunteers as an NHS volunteer responder steward to support the vaccine rollout in her local community in the city.
Catherine said: “I first heard the call for steward volunteers to support NHS staff at vaccination sites back in February and I signed up immediately.
“I really felt compelled to support the NHS with this monumental rollout and was so glad of the chance to do so.
“I still have friends on the frontline, some working with their daughters, and because I know what they have been through and are still going through, I absolutely had to sign up and help.
“The NHS has been there for me and my family when I needed them, and I saw volunteering as my chance to be there for the NHS.
“At the vaccination centres our role help to ease pressures on clinical staff by allowing them to focus on the task at hand.
“However, as well as being incredibly rewarding, steward volunteering is a lot of fun.
“I have really enjoyed the 150-plus hours I have spent volunteering at vaccination sites in Bradford and there is always a real feeling of camaraderie among the people there.
“I obviously didn’t sign up to volunteer for myself, but have found that it’s been a two-way street, the experience has given me a real sense of purpose and has been fantastic for my own wellbeing.
“I plan to be a steward volunteer for as long as I’m possibly needed and would encourage anyone to do the same.
“I can assure you that you will never regret it.”
CASE STUDY 2:
‘It gave us a real sense of community to volunteer with these people’
Julie, 46, and Stuart, 69, Benson, of Addingham, were furloughed and retired respectively when they began volunteering in January 2021.
Stuart said: “Being retired has left me with a lot of time on my hands, and when I saw that a vaccination site was opening up nearby and they needed steward volunteers, I signed up right away.
“I have also been a mountain rescue volunteer for 30 years and so it comes naturally to me to want to help people in their hour of need.”
Julie continued: “When the third lockdown hit and I was furloughed, I wasn’t sure what to do with myself.
“Stuart and I had been helping out in our community throughout the pandemic. After the new year I had even more time to offer, so when Stewart told me that people were needed to help our local vaccine rollout, it was perfect timing.
“From the first shift I absolutely loved it, as much as my actual job! It gave me a new routine, knowing what shifts I was doing, and I would plan my days around my stewarding shifts.
“It was something stable in my life and stability was what I wanted in that third lockdown
“It’s given us a real sense of community to volunteer with these people who work hard and just get stuck in together.”
Stuart added: “It gives you a reason to get going in the morning, a reason to get up and get on with it.
“It has been great to see the way that people have come together during the pandemic
“Julie is back in work now so we can only do one shift a week together on her days off, but I’ll keep accepting shifts during the week. It has been something nice to do as a couple.”
Julie concluded: “Even after the pandemic I will carry on volunteering where I’m needed.”