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REASONS TO BE CHEERFUL: Volunteers help make vaccinations a smooth process

HELPING HAND: Volunteers Mary King and Jenny Cave at the Bradbury Centre last week coordinating the vaccine process from arrival to departure Picture: Helena Badger

But keep on following the lockdown rules.

AFTER a month of being in the country’s strictest coronavirus measures, at last Wokingham residents can have some reasons to be cheerful.

Infection rates have started to come down, as the new lockdown rules start to have an effect. Working from home and closing schools means fewer places for the virus to be transmitted.

Wokingham Borough Council is planning to open more vaccination centres as the race to get jabs into people’s arms continues.

And the process has been helped thanks to more than 500 volunteers across the borough have signed-up to ensure smooth roll-out of the Covid-19 vaccines.

Community centres have been repurposed for the facilities.

Helena Badger, services manager at Wokingham Volunteer Centre, said there has been a fantastic response to the call for help. Since the new year, the centre has sent volunteers to 215 sessions at clinics in Lower Earley, Wokingham and soon, Woodley.

Vaccination support volunteers have been managing the sign-in process, car parking, temperature checks and supervision sessions after the jab, Ms Badger explained.

This, she said, helps ensure medical staff are focusing on their roles.

“Practice managers have told me they couldn’t do it without volunteers,” Ms Badger said. “They’ve been able to do more vaccinations than they thought, due to the smooth process.”

Mary King, said: “I’m so pleased to be able to volunteer at The Bradbury Centre and feel as though we are helping to make a difference — two shifts done and third one this week.”

Each volunteer can sign up to as many sessions as they like, using the custom-built booking form.

It also allows for easy cancellation if a volunteer is asked to self-isolate.

“It’s fantastic,” Ms King added. “Secure organisation all round, slick process and everyone complimentary — well done Wokingham’s medical centres and the Wokingham Volunteer Centre.”

This is reassuring residents too.

Ms Badger said last week, an 86-year-old woman was vaccinated, marking the first time she has left her home since February last year.

“Stepping out for the first time could be quite daunting,” Ms Badger said. “Volunteers can provide some reassurance.”

One resident who had the jab said: “Thanks to the volunteers, who, despite the pouring rain, were so helpful, friendly and outgoing.”

Before the pandemic, the average volunteer was of retirement age, but this has all changed now.

“We have people who are furloughed, working part-time, working from home — there’s such a mix of ages,” Ms Badger said. “It’s been massively positive, and it’s shown people they can fit volunteering into their life.

“It’s raised awareness of the need in our community — even an hour a month can make a difference. It’s not too onerous.”

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