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We were tasked with helping with recruitment of volunteers to support the work of the two mass vaccination centres in Basingstoke. Whilst the volunteers and others would be working on the non-clinical side, guiding patients around the centres and generally helping things to run smoothly, I was getting stuck in behind the scenes…

I’m writing this on the 10th of September, which is the final day, probably, of operations for the Basingstoke Fire Station Vaccination Centre. I say probably because, for everybody involved in one way or another with these centres, there has been a degree of uncertainty at any given time as to what the demands and requirements on the centre will be. Even now, we are still unsure about whether children will be vaccinated and if “booster” programmes will go ahead this winter. 

BVA’s link with the programme starts before Christmas of 2020. When the vaccines became available, the Hampshire Court Hotel was converted into a vaccination centre focussed on the elderly and the clinically vulnerable. Basingstoke Loddon Rotary provided voluntary support for the operation but as the numbers ground up more volunteers were required, and the centre contacted us to see if we could help.  

Simultaneously with this, BVA’s ad-hoc coalition of individual volunteers and voluntary groups, having performed sterling work during the worst of the COVID lockdowns supporting those sheltering, along with many others, started looking to help in any way they could with the vaccination effort. They begin contacting us to be put on ‘the list’ of volunteers – so we had to create one. 

Between Christmas and New Year 2020, We were asked to try and put together an online booking system which would allow people to book a volunteering shift on any given day. This was rapidly slung together using a cloud-based product and our own systems and web site. Plenty of teething problems and a few late nights later it settled down and continues working largely unchanged to this day. We were able to use it again, at very short notice, to also support the Fire Station site when that came online in February 2021. At its peak over 60 people per day were making shift bookings for the two sites through the application. 

Getting on for 1000 local people have registered their interest in volunteering for the sites with us since December. We are truly grateful to everybody who has volunteered at the sites (and those who will continue to do so at Jameson House into the future). For many of them this would have been their first volunteering experience and perhaps a beginning to many more. 

Next Steps:

Here at BVA, we’re here to support you in finding the perfect volunteering opportunity for you. If you are interested in getting involved in the community and making a difference, please enquire now – We’re here to help! CLICK HERE

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