'Volunteering at a vaccination centre felt like playing my part in a historic event' - Social Good Connect

‘Volunteering at a vaccination centre felt like playing my part in a historic event’

20 April 2021

My volunteering experience, by Lorraine Smith, DC Thomson

DC Thomson Project Manager, Lorraine, talks about her experience volunteering at a vaccination centre last month. She shares her thoughts on instant teamwork, vaccine no-shows and the value of a business being about more than pounds, pence and profit.

Lorraine Smith, Project Manager, DC Thompson

How did you find yourself volunteering at Caird Hall?

My employer had signed us up to Social Good Connect the previous month and encouraged us all to get on board. I’d been receiving email alerts to volunteering roles that matched my skills, experience and interests. When the vaccination centre one popped up early on in the process, I grabbed it! I’d wanted to get back into volunteering after having worked with Breakthrough doing mentoring programmes in the past. At this pretty historic time, I think we all have a part to play in helping the nation move back towards some kind of normal.

How did volunteering like this make you feel?

The centre staff made me feel very welcome and it’s always a really well organised process and team. There’s an overwhelming sense of being part of a massive collective effort to make things better. You’re launched into a multi-skilled public-facing team made up of regular volunteers, new volunteers, furloughed council staff and medical professionals. The camaraderie and sense of purpose is really uplifting.

What skills do you need to volunteer at a vaccination centre?

You need to be upbeat, put people at ease and adapt your style to suit different personalities and situations. In many ways the skills are similar to those in my job. Teamwork, good communication, empathy for the fact that you don’t ever know someone’s back story, how they’re feeling about having the vaccine or what might have happened in their family as a result of Covid. It could make quite a difference to how they approach coming in for a vaccine, and might trigger all sorts of emotions. In my marshalling role I’ve seen nervous people, excited people, quiet people – all sorts. Sometimes there’s a short lull in vaccine-giving because of a staff shift change, so we make sure to reassure people waiting queues that it will only be a short delay and why it’s happening.

Did anything surprise you about your experience?

I do regular shifts there of three hours each time and it’s great that the role is so flexible. The centre is open seven days a week and there are three possible shifts each day so you can choose exactly what fits with your lifestyle and work.

In any one day, we vaccinate between 400 and 1400 people, depending on vaccine supply and medical professional availability. I was shocked to see as many as 40 no-shows one particular day. Some of them might have been due to missed correspondence, but several possibly weren’t, and it’s not ideal that there are people failing to turn up or failing to let the centre know so they can free up the slot for someone else. I guess volunteering teaches you that not everyone wants to participate!

Any unexpected challenges?

The day after my first shift I tripped over some decking at a post-lockdown garden gathering (!) and broke my hand.  That wasn’t part of the plan! It didn’t stop me though – other people’s needs are often greater – and I’ve since done several more shifts and enjoyed constant ribbing from my new Caird Hall team-mates for being so accident-prone!

Any wider thoughts about volunteering as part of Social Good Connect?

I’m proud to be working for a company who supports this, and I respect DC Thomson for getting on board with it – there’s a very caring aspect there. it shows that we’re about more than just business, and more than about pounds, pence and profit.

By signing up for employee volunteering using this platform, you can find plenty of suitable opportunities, and it’s rewarding to know that something you’re doing, however small, could make such a big difference to other people.

Book a call or join our community to find out more!

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