Havering welcomes more than 400 new vaccine volunteers in one month
- Credit: Havering Volunteering Centre
The number of volunteers helping with Havering's Covid-19 vaccine rollout has jumped by more than 400 in just one month.
Shelley Hart, CEO of the Havering Volunteer Centre (HVC), told the Recorder there are around 550 volunteers working across the borough's two sites, at Romford's Victoria Hospital and Hornchurch Library.
This represents a huge surge from the 120-plus volunteers the Recorder learned had signed up between December 17 and January 14.
Shelley is keen to pay tribute to this army of helpers, lauding them for remaining "cheerful and dedicated" - particularly in the recent bad weather: "They are cold and chilly but have very warming smiles on their faces," she said.
The extent of the centre's efforts - especially during the pandemic - is reflected in the numbers revealed at its annual meeting, which took place virtually in late January.
It revealed the HVC, which is less than five years old, had trained up 1,200 Covid-19 volunteers during 2020.
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Of those, 900 were community and vaccination volunteers, with 253 people placing more than 500 care calls as Chat Buddies.
There were also 40 dog walking and five transport volunteers.
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Deliveries formed a huge part of the HVC service: during 2020, 1,100 emergency food parcels and 4,600 prescriptions were delivered (while 334 foodbank vouchers were also issued).
Between March 17 and December 31, 23,488 intervention calls were received by volunteers.
The number was 5,371 for the equivalent period in 2019.
Looking to the future, Shelley wishes to emphasise that new volunteers are always welcome, but asks those interested not to be deterred if they don't hear back immediately: "As this programme roles on we will need a steady flow of new volunteers but we ask everyone to be patient as we will work through the list and get everyone volunteering as soon as we can."
For now, she wishes to thank "every single one of the marvellous volunteer heroes that have helped thus far", without whom the success of the borough's vaccination programme would not be possible.
Anyone interested can call HVC on 01708 922214 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.