Residents in Cornwall step up to support biggest vaccination programme

Volunteers have joined the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic by supporting NHS staff at Cornwall’s mass vaccination centres.
Since March 2020, more than 3,900 volunteers have signed up to support Cornwall’s most vulnerable residents with shopping, medication collection, transport to appointments, and now 330 people are working across Stithians and Royal Cornwall showgrounds to support the roll-out of the COVID vaccine.

Volunteer Cornwall was asked to help recruit volunteers for the mass vaccination sites and was blown away with the response, with more than 500 volunteers stepping up in 5 days.

Melissa Retallack, 30, has been volunteering since the beginning of the pandemic and jumped at the chance to help at Stithians Showground: “Having been on and off furlough throughout the past 12 months, I knew that if I was in a position to help, I absolutely would,” she said.

“It’s been really nice greeting people as they arrive for their vaccine appointments, and it’s been a pleasure to work alongside really friendly people.

“Even when I go back to work, I’m still going to keep volunteering 1 day a week and supporting the vaccination programme.”

Morewenna Vernon, 62, has been volunteering at the Royal Cornwall Showground vaccination centre 2 to 3 times a week, and despite the terrible weather, she has always turned up with a smile.

“When Volunteer Cornwall put a call out for volunteers to help out at Wadebridge, I jumped at the chance,” Morwenna commented. “I knew the vaccine was the only way to get back to some sort of normal life, and I really want to be part of that.

“It’s been a great experience and the team are superb. The collaboration between paid staff and volunteers has been fantastic, and you feel really supported by everyone. Just the other day, when we were standing outside in the hail and rain, cups of tea were brought out to the volunteers and it was the best cup of tea I’ve had in my whole live.

“I’m really proud of being able to support the NHS and be a part of something great.”

Simon Long, project lead for the COVID-19 vaccination centres, said: “It has been incredible to see so many people offer their support. The volunteers have been there to guide and comfort people when they arrive, and we wouldn’t have been able to have so much success without them.

“Despite the difficulties that we have all faced in the past year, it has been an honour to work alongside people who have selflessly put other’s needs before their own.

“Thank you to everyone that has supported the vaccination programme so far.”

Heidi Channell, mass vaccination volunteer co-ordinator at Volunteer Cornwall said: “It has been an absolute privilege to support these volunteers, and humbling to know that so many people are prepared to give up their time to volunteer at the mass vaccination sites, often standing outside in all types of weather.

“Feedback has been amazing and a fantastic opportunity for collaboration between the voluntary sector and the NHS in Cornwall.”

Visit the Volunteer Cornwall website for more information on volunteering in Cornwall.

Added on 18 March 2021, in News - COVID-19 vaccine