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Post | December 2022 | For volunteers | 2 min read

Johanna's Story

Written by Laura Bazley
 Johanna Pereira

In the midst of the pandemic, volunteer, Johanna Pereira, played an important part in helping people to stay safe by taking part in the Covid Community Champion Programme and becoming a Vaccination Buddy. 

Here, she explains what motivated her to volunteer, the benefits she gained and how it led to paid employment with NHS Somerset.  


“Being a Covid Community Champion was perfect for me, as I could help whilst caring for my daughter. I was able to learn and share information with people in a way that made sense to them. I'm passionate about tackling misinformation and I particularly wanted to help the communities that Covid-19 is affecting the most; people from black and other minority groups like me.  

“When the opportunity to become a Vaccination Buddy arose, it was the perfect way to build on and use the knowledge I had gained as a Covid Community Champion. I really wanted to play a role in supporting the vaccination programme by helping people who were worried about the vaccine to access correct information and make informed decisions. I felt I could help other people stay safe by dispelling the myths that were causing more harm than good.  

“As a Covid Community Champion, I attended regular Zoom meetings to get the latest information and shared it with family and friends. As a Vaccination Buddy, my role involved listening to people’s concerns over the phone and offering information and assurance, without pressure or judgement.  

I learned a great deal and was kept up to date with the latest information by Spark Somerset and Somerset County Council.”   

“I recommend that others volunteer as not only is it a great opportunity to be part of something bigger and give back to the community, it also comes with excellent personal rewards.”  

“For example, volunteering has helped me build my confidence, broadened my support network, given me a sense of purpose, made me feel valued as part of the team, and because the work is varied, it keeps me mentally stimulated.  


“It has also led to a paid role with Somerset NHS Foundation Trust as a Lay Vaccinator. Last week I completed a competency shift where I vaccinated five people in order to complete my training. It was incredibly exciting and rewarding to learn a new skill! 

“For those considering volunteering, I would say that already means you have the willingness to support others, which is a fantastic quality to have and exactly what is needed in a volunteer! At first, it may feel daunting to put yourself forward, but you’ll soon find yourself in the company of a highly welcoming and supportive team or organisation with a common goal – so go for it! 

“Through volunteering with a wonderful, enthusiastic bunch of people and thanks to the fantastic support offered by Spark Somerset, I feel I'm moving forward with confidence.” 

Helen Fielden, who works for Spark Somerset and coordinated the Covid Community Champion and Vaccination Buddy programmes, said: 

“Johanna has been a huge asset to both the Champion and Vaccination Buddy Schemes. Her wisdom and calm, reliable approach has contributed hugely to both pieces of work, they wouldn’t have been the same without her.”   

If Johanna's story has inspired you to get involved in volunteering, click on the link below. 



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