Chris helps to save lives
During the pandemic, Chris seized an opportunity to become a volunteer vaccinator, which is a first step towards pursuing his dream career.
Chris has always been interested in the medical field and would like to be a critical care paramedic. After being furloughed from his job as a bartender, Chris decided he wanted to keep busy, help others and pursue his dream. When Chris spotted St John Ambulance advertising for volunteer vaccinators, he saw this as a great opportunity and applied straight away.
Chris began receiving support from Choice Support's Pengarth transition’s team at the start of this year and has already made his mark. He is a competent chef who gives cooking lessons to other tenants and is involved in many volunteering projects. The Pengarth service for young adults offers different types of support according to each person’s needs. Placements normally last two years and help prepare people to move on in the community.
Within weeks of applying, Chris started training at Canary Wharf, for what would become the biggest vaccination programme ever carried out by the NHS and supported by St John Ambulance. Chris found the training an amazing experience with a lovely team and lots of role-playing. One activity involved using UV light to show volunteers how the infection spreads. Chris practiced giving injections on a silicone arm and took extensive online courses to learn about the vaccine.
Once training was complete, Chris began his first shift at the Excel Vaccination Centre. Each volunteer was partnered with a nurse and administered five vaccinations before being approved. Chris learnt a lot from the nurses, watching how they work, and understanding duty of care.
He says: “I absolutely love my role at St John Ambulance, every day you meet new people that share similar interests. It feels like a family. We are always learning, and the people I work with are very supportive.”
Now, Chris volunteers two to three times a week and often administers over 20 vaccines a day. He says: “I spoke with an older lady who was so grateful for her vaccine. We were the first people she had seen in over eight months. It is important that people in health and social care are vaccinated, as we are the role models for others. By having the vaccine, we are helping to save lives”.
Chris is finding his experience with St John Ambulance to be an invaluable first step in his medical career. To anyone interested in volunteering, he says: “Go for it, you will not regret it. There are so many roles you can choose from, no matter your age or ability.”