'Thank You' to our Amazing Local Vaccination Volunteers

Tue, Oct 19th 2021 at 1:12 pm- Fri, Dec 31st 2021 - 3:12 pm

The Rotary Club of South Foreland organises 'thank you' receptions for volunteer marshals who have helped at the Dover Vaccination Centre. Robin and Peter give their thanks.

‘Thank You’ to our Amazing Local Vaccination Volunteers

On the evenings of 11th and 15th of October, the Rotary Club of South Foreland organised ‘thank you’ receptions for the more than 100 Volunteer Marshals who have supported the Dover Vaccination Centre since it opened in early January.  Some of them helped at the Aylesham Centre which was opened on 28th December and continued in operation until 21st January.  It was good to see around seventy of the volunteers over the two evenings. Those who were unable to attend are also thanked for their help.

 The main purpose of the events was to give a big thank you to the volunteers for giving their time, energy and commitment to our local community. It was also a time to meet up with one another, with Volunteer Organiser Robin Dodridge and his team, as well as Doctor Julian Mead, an ever-present supervisor, organiser and problem solver at the centre.  There was plenty of socialising while the refreshments were enjoyed, and experiences were shared.  This was followed by brief addresses from Robin and Club President, Peter West.

Robin told us how the volunteering at vaccination centres began.  While the voluntary sector has always been important for providing help in a national emergency, it was after the Grenfell fire that the Home Office came to realise the true value of this sector and set up the Voluntary and Community Sector Emergencies Partnership.  This brought together local and national organisations with the aim of delivering a more coordinated response to emergencies. Examples of national organisations involved are the Red Cross, St John’s Ambulance, major faith groups and Rotary.  Rotary South East had established Area Coordinators to encourage Rotary clubs to volunteer at vaccination centres as these began to be set up.

This is where Robin, as Area Coordinator for the South East Kent Coast, came to the fore, answering the call to find volunteers for local vaccination centres.  Recruits came from the four local Rotary clubs, family, friends, local community organisations and individuals.  As the NHS Admin was overloaded Robin offered to run the volunteer system in full, first at Aylesham and then at Dover.

From the early days Robin’s aim was to make the process as professional and efficient as possible but this took time; it was soon apparent that this would be a marathon and not a sprint. He referred to his initial role as a pen and paper, twelve hours a day, seven days a week job with many phone calls and e-mails. As well as recruiting and deploying volunteers, producing daily rotas, writing instructions and risk assessments for volunteers, Robin wrote a Daily Bulletin with the latest  information on rotas and changes.  This could not be sustained.

Two developments which helped to make the process manageable were the introduction of an online booking system to enable volunteers to book themselves on to shifts, and the establishment of the Operations Team to assist Robin with the workload.  He thanked the team of Dave and Judith Smith, Clive Watson and Andrew and Shirley Eberlein. He is particularly grateful to Andrew and Shirley who take over his role when he needs a break.  In addition, a backroom team helps to recruit new volunteers, manages the administration needed for them, and deals with publicity and reports.

Finally, Robin thanked the professional team of vaccinators, pharmacists and receptionists led by Doctor Julian Mead.  He then handed over to President Peter.

Peter referred to the provision of volunteer marshals at vaccination centres as the biggest and most intense programme that Rotary has undertaken in our locality.  Although the Rotary Club of South Foreland has taken the lead it has been supported by the active cooperation of the other local clubs: Dover, Deal and Sandwich.  He thanked everyone who has helped with this programme, giving particular thanks to Robin who has been totally committed to establishing, administering and improving the process of providing volunteer marshals.

Peter went on to speak of Rotary in the wider sense with its membership of 1.2 million, its motto of ‘service above self’ and its provision of worldwide humanitarian aid.  It is no stranger to immunisation projects.  Thirty five years ago there were 300,000 cases of polio, a crippling disease which mainly affects children.  It was a group of Rotarians who set up an immunisation campaign and persuaded governments, the World Health Organisation, the UN and other organisations to join in.  Today most of the world is free of polio with only two cases reported so far this year.

Nearer home Rotary helps with all sorts of projects, such as supporting local foodbanks, litter picking and beach cleaning.  Every year we help with the British Legion Poppy Appeal and this year will be running a stand in Morrisons Supermarket from 30th October until 13th November.  If you feel that you could give a few hours to this worthy cause, please contact us using the email at the end.

 We are grateful to Jemma Jenkinson, Morrisons Community Champion, who has supported our ‘thank you’ events with good deals on refreshments as well as being an enthusiastic and friendly member of the organising team. She will be involved with us during the Poppy Appeal at Morrisons.

The vaccination programme, now entering its tenth month, is far from over, with booster jabs to administer and only 12.4 % of 12 to 15 year having been given their first vaccination.  As vaccination is now our prime way of combating the covid virus, it is vital that the programme does not falter.  We urgently need more volunteer marshals at Dover in order to spread the load, and there will be the need for volunteers at a new vaccination centre being set up by Doctor Julian at Whitfield.

Thanks again to our Volunteer Marshals who give direction, guidance and reassurance to patients: Vaccination centres could not operate without the help of people like you.

If you would like to consider becoming a volunteer marshal and want to find out more, please  e-mail:  



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