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Julia Kirwan


“I volunteered because I wanted to do something positive and proactive to help get the country through this awful pandemic,” says Julia, who put herself forward after her daughter, Kate, forwarded a link to the Trust website story calling for volunteers. 

“I sadly lost my mother-in-law to the virus in May last year, so saw first-hand how awful the effects of the virus can be. 

“Throughout the pandemic, I've sometimes felt hopeless and helpless, as if I'm watching a disaster movie playing out before me. By volunteering, I feel I'm actually able to play a small part in turning things around.” 

Since 5 February, Julia has worked as a volunteer co-ordinator at the vaccination centre in Eastbourne, her home town. Although it is her first volunteering role with the Trust, the 61-year-old has a part-time job with West Sussex Carers Support Service. 

“I volunteer [for the vaccination programme] on Friday mornings at the Welcome Building, and I am responsible for a team of volunteer stewards, ensuring they have all been inducted and understand their roles and responsibilities at the vaccine centre,” says Julia. 

“I ensure that volunteers are stationed at appropriate points within the centre to welcome and register those being vaccinated, and guide them through to the vaccination pods and out of the building as quickly and safely as possible. 

“I love meeting all the different people coming for their vaccination,” she explains. “Many of them tell us that they haven't been out for months, and they're so delighted to see real human beings and be able to exchange a few words, even if it's just about the weather! You can also see the relief on some of their faces that they're getting their vaccine protection. 

“I also really enjoy working with the other volunteers and medical staff. They're a really kind, caring bunch from all walks of life, with endless enthusiasm and energy, and it's great to interact with real people as opposed to heads and shoulders on Zoom chats. 

“Being at the centre also makes me feel as if I'm part of something significant. Hopefully, when this is all behind us, I'll be able to look back in years to come and say ‘I was there!’.” 

Julia says her voluntary work has “reinforced her admiration” for the NHS, which she has always held in high esteem. 

“I'm hopeful that the vaccination programme will help the country recover as quickly as possible,” she says. “I also hope that all the fantastic community and volunteer support initiatives that have sprung up continue to flourish and that we remember how important it is to look out for each other.”