The Government intends to offer COVID-19 vaccines to 15 million people by mid-February. The Salvation Army is doing its part to ensure that goal is met by offering its churches and community centres as vaccination hubs.
Roger Coates, Leader of The Salvation Army in Lower Earley, Reading, where one of the first two vaccination centres was opened, said, “We help vulnerable people all year round, some of whom will be among the first groups to be offered the vaccinations.”
It makes sense, then, for the church and charity to convert its branches into vaccination centres to further help its communities and community members devastated by the virus.
In addition, NHS staff, volunteers, and members of the public who need help coping with the effects of the virus can avail themselves of pastoral support on offer at The Salvation Army’s centres.
Boots on the ground
Salvationists are also playing a more personal role in the vaccination rollout. For example, Lieutenant Daniel Holland, The Salvation Army’s Assistant Regional Homelessness Manager for London and a registered nurse, is trained to give Covid-19 vaccinations. He uses his weekends to volunteer at GP surgeries and other centres close to his home.
Commenting on his role, he said, “The quicker we are all vaccinated, the safer we will all be and the quicker we can all start to get back to normal. This is one way I can play my part to help with that.”
Another example is Charlotte Sharman, a member of Regent Hall corps (church), who works as a practice nurse and is directly involved in the vaccination programme.
Commenting on her role, she said, “When I went into the care home, everyone told me how happy they were to be receiving the vaccines so that life could start to get back to normal. I was on such a high that day when I got home knowing that I had helped the residents move a step closer to being able to see their families again.”
She added, “It is such a blessing to be a part of helping our communities get back to normal and to be helping protect the most vulnerable. I feel privileged to be involved in this work.”
In addition to the centre at Lower Earley, The Salvation Army has a vaccination centre in Shoeburyness, Essex.