Social Responsibility University news

Student heroes: Coronavirus vaccine volunteers

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We are immensely proud to share that The University of Manchester students have logged a combined 1,000 hours on the Volunteer Hub for their involvement in the distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Students have volunteered not just in Manchester, but across the world and as far afield as Saudi Arabia, demonstrating that no matter where you are studying, you can make a real impact as part of our University community.

Supporting in the global response to the pandemic, students have acted as vaccinators, stewards, data inputters and more at multiple vaccination sites.

Biomedical Sciences student, Maisie, volunteered as a vaccinator with St. John’s Ambulance and described queues of over an hour during her first shift as people waited patiently (and excitedly) to receive their vaccine. She said: “it has been a great opportunity for me and I’m very lucky to have had the chance to help people during this time”. Maisie is applying to study Medicine in the Autumn, and so her experience supporting the distribution of the vaccine “was the perfect chance for (her) to learn new skills and chat with new people”.

Speaking on her motivations for joining the vaccine programme, Fran, another student volunteer said: “I jumped at the chance to be involved because I knew there might never be an opportunity as significant as this in my lifetime, and like many others I have spent the last year feeling frustrated at not being able to do more to support my community.”

Antasar, a third year Chemistry student, volunteered as an Observer: “It could get hectic at times, but from this experience I developed many skills including my time management and organisation (skills that are important to any university student). Overall, I have really enjoyed my experiences working at different sites around Manchester, helping the NHS to vaccine people of all ages. I strongly recommend that anyone who wishes to volunteer signs up for this opportunity as it’s really flexible and a good way to pass the time if you have a few spare hours”.

Nehl has volunteered as an administrator, ensuring vaccine recipients have completed pre-screening and provided their consent, logging their data accurately into the online system, and booking them in for their second doses. She has volunteered upwards of 150 hours, and values the opportunity to engage with Manchester’s non-student community. “Especially as an international student, I really wanted to interact with locals in an authentic environment. It is always the highlight of my day when I’m able to speak to people in Hindi and Urdu and talk them through the vaccination process. Hearing their home language brings an immediate positive change; their nervousness melts away, they’re smiling, they’re comfortable and reassured. This is also the main reason I’d encourage international or multilingual students to join in the vaccination efforts. People from all over the world and all walks of life come in to get vaccinated everyday – you never know when a tiny act of kindness on your part might help someone feel so much safer during these uncertain times!”

If you would like to get involved, visit the University’s volunteer hub for details on current volunteer roles. You can find more information here about positions in vaccine centres, as well as safety guidance you should be aware of when volunteering during the pandemic.

If you are an undergraduate student undertaking one of the unpaid roles, you can count your hours towards Stellify. While we know most students haven’t volunteered for this purpose, it’s a great way to keep track of your hours and be recognised for your amazing efforts. On behalf of everyone at the University, we want to say a huge ‘thank you’ to everyone involved!

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