The Covid-19 vaccine roll-out is well underway across the UK. Vaccination centres have sprung up in almost every town and city, staffed by both NHS staff and health professionals drawn from other sectors. In addition to the paid staff, volunteers are needed to support the effort. Although there was a big recruitment drive for NHS volunteers at the start of the pandemic, there is still plenty of opportunity to get involved if you’re interested. So, what do you need to know?
Most of the staff who are delivering the vaccines have medical backgrounds and training, whether as a nurse, doctor, midwife, or dentist. These people have been recruited, trained and are up to speed with what they need to do. Volunteers are needed for the other jobs in the centre, to keep the system running smoothly. Using volunteers means that the medical staff can concentrate on the core activity of injecting patients. A volunteer might be greeting patients at the door, showing patients where to wait, directing traffic in the car park, or doing any other admin support as required.
Skills and Experience
The good news is that the NHS isn’t looking for any particular qualifications or experience for people who wish to step up as volunteers. It’s more about your personal skills and personality, being able to get along with lots of different people and remain friendly and professional at all times. Obviously, a good standard of written English will be essential, as is initiative and thinking on your feet. Reliability and punctuality are also key; there will be some flexibility over which shifts you are allocated, and how long you wish to volunteer for, but once you commit to helping, you should be prepared to turn up at the right time.
Volunteers have to conform to the same rules about right to work and live in the UK as paid workers, so volunteers might be asked to show their passports or other documents to prove that they have that right. A basic DBS check will also be needed for many roles, and the NHS will give assistance in completing the applications and getting the certificate. The good news is that volunteers do not pay for a disclosure check, and currently all DBS applications from NHS staff and volunteers are being prioritised through the system.
Furlough and Volunteering
If you’re currently furloughed from your regular position and have some free time to volunteer, then there in most cases there is no reason why you shouldn’t do so. People who are likely to be called back into work at short notice should consider whether they can commit to long-term volunteering. If you do know that you are going to be off work for some considerable time or are in a situation where you are in fear of redundancy, volunteering in a vaccination centre could give you more work experience and examples of situations to draw on at any future job interviews.