Volunteers have played a key role in the pandemic response. During an exceptionally difficult year, people from across Somerset have taken the time to volunteer and make a huge difference to their communities.
When we put a call out for volunteers to support the county vaccination Centres earlier this year, over 1200 people signed up. One of whom is Jane, who has been volunteering as a Marshall at the Taunton Racecourse Vaccination Centre since January 2021.
Here she explains what motivated her to volunteer, what’s involved and why she continues to do it.
“As soon as I saw the request for volunteers, I put in my application. I’m a very social person. I love the company of others and love organising. I felt the need to do something, to contribute in some way to help get things moving in the right direction.
“I started back in the dark wet days of January and my first shift was at 7:45am! My preferred shift now, is 4 - 8pm and, if I can, I like to be inside the centre helping the vaccinators and directing the people into the booths.
“I love chatting to people as they come in for their vaccinations. I like to think that I keep an upbeat cheery atmosphere whilst people are waiting for their jab and help reassure those that are nervous.
“The over 80’s back in January, who returned for their second jabs in April, were a joy. Some hadn’t been out in a very long time and were so grateful it was all happening. So many people commented on how well organised everything was and lots bought chocolate and cakes for everyone in the team to share. I’m not sure that it’s helped my waistline, but it certainly made me smile!
“The nurses and vaccinators tell us that they couldn’t do it without us which has made me feel useful and certainly helped my mental wellbeing. My Mum died last September of Cancer and volunteering has helped me to keep busy and think of other things.
“I’d highly recommend volunteering as it makes good use of people who have some time and energy to give to help get the job done. It makes you feel useful, knowing you’re giving a little back - plus it’s fun and fulfilling.”