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3 goodgymers saw in the final mass vaccination shift at the Leys Health Centre on Saturday morning.
Starting runs at 7AM it was already a very sweaty affair by the time we were set to begin our shift! There was a great spirit in the air as, despite it being a Saturday, the staff were looking forward to a well overdue break and there was a sense of achievement at the huggggge efforts put in by all since the start of the year in getting as many people vaccinated as possible.
As with it being the final push, the day was not going to be simple. Over the 6 hr shift there were both Pfizer and AstraZeneca clinics running, with some patients even coming for mixed doses!! Stickers were used to help assign the right jab to the right patient, and those needing to wait were given an extra sticker with their leave time - despite the chaos, everything ran rather smoothly. (With only a 30min delay on the end time!)
After a quick briefing and some great group pictures, we were assigned our roles and set to work. Ben was on back door duty, making sure people who entered the Health Centre also found their way back out, and into the sunshine, Ruth was busy tag teaming up with a vaccinator and providing very efficient clinical administration skills, and Alice upped her step count on tea, coffee and general 'runner' duties.
At the end of the day, there was obligatory domino’s pizza consumption, and as it was the final shift, the Centre had very kindly provided all volunteers with a gift as a token of their appreciation for all of our help! We will definitely enjoy a brew in them soon , once the weather cools down a little! Thank you!
Congratulations to all the volunteers and Staff at the Leys for the monumental effort; it's been a pleasure working alongside you all, and we most likely see you in the winter for some top-up clinics!!
Aston's Eyot is tucked away beside the river and is one of our favourite Oxford wild spots. They've just completed a (very on-trend) vaccination programme to immunise their badgers against TB, and now the focus returns to nature reserve management to encourage greater biodiversity.
Meeting us at the tool shed Ruth explained our tasks for the evening would be clearing nettles from one of the best areas for wildflowers in Aston's Eyot using a combination of scything and weeding out by hand. Removing the taller nettles should allow the smaller flowers to thrive. We actually cleared nettles in the same patch a couple of years ago, so it was nice to be back at the same spot with some of the same people.
In the wildflower meadow we grasped the nettle with enthusiasm. It was oddly satisfying pulling them out by the roots and revealing the smaller wildflowers beneath the canopy of stingy beasts.
A few eyes lit up at the sight of the scythes, with Sarah and Katie taking first go and wooshing through large patches of nettles, before handing the blades around the group for more people to try. Afterall, it's not often someone lets you loose with a scythe.
Scything proved both satisfying and therapeutic after a long year or COVID-frustrations!
Some of us were definitely more savvy with our clothing options for nettle-work than others. Not ideal: shorts and vests. Good choices for nettle work (although a bit steamy for 26 degree heat): head-to-toe waterproofs.
Having amassed a massive haul of nettles we had to consider whether we could be making good use of the 'weeds'. Matt reliably informs us that the first nettle harvest of the year is the best one for cooking, and as they also seem to be the fiercest stingers we figured there might be a certain satisfaction to boiling them up after the pain we have endured from them on GoodGym tasks over the last couple of years!
Our top 3 options:
* Nettle Tea
* Nettle Soup
* Beating ourselves with them for warmth, just like the Romans
Badgers proved elusive (well, they are nocturnal), but we were treated to the sight of a muntjak deer wandering across the path at the end of our session, apparently supremely unconcerned by 25 people staring at it!
We welcomed our first GoodGym tourist since the pandemic, with Chi joining us from Haringey.
And finally... welcome to Meysam - Thanks for joining us for the first time!
Who's the best at nettle weeding? STING!
Aston's Eyot nature reserve reaches to the river and is a favourite spot for picnicking and swimming on sunny days. Litter has been a problem at times recently, so we may end up clearing up some litter (although on 22nd May a community litter pick was planned by Thames21, so it may be under control). More likely we will be helping to prune back shrubs, brambles and bushes which have started encroaching on the paths through the reserve.
Aston's Eyot access is at the far end of Jackdaw Lane, past the Iffley Road Sports Centre entrance. We will meet at the intersection of Meadow Lane and Jackdaw Lane at 6:15pm and walk along to Aston's Eyot together.
Please bring your own gloves. Tools will be provided. We will also supply bin bags if we end up litter picking.
As always, we are likely to split into smaller groups to work in different areas of the nature reserve. There's LOADS of space to be able to maintain social distancing.
Ruth has completed their 15th good deed with GoodGym
Today Ruth and I helped out on the very long morning shift at the Blackbird Leys Health Centre. Today 50 million doses were provided in England!
The day started with a briefing where staff were informed of the new blood clot rates in the 30-39 year old age range for the AZ vaccine. A change from 4 in a million to 1 in 100,000! For people taking their second dose of the AZ vaccine, there are only 7 cases of clots in the millions and millions of doses that have been given out already - this made me feel better as I was to have my second dose that day!
I ran around making the teas and coffees and handing out biscuits. Along with gifts of Mr Kipling and kit kats from patients. Ruth spent the shift doing admin in one of the vaccination rooms.
Today's task really did put the Gym into Goodgym.
We arrived at The Children's Allotment to find a slightly exasperated Alice. Her order of 20 tonnes of top-soil and compost had been delivered to the wrong end of the allotment site and was currently blocking an access gate. Step in Goodgym and our can-do attitude!
We quickly divided into three groups - one group at the delivery site armed with shovels, one shuttling back and forth with wheel barrows and one at the newly constructed raised beds ready to receive and layer up the soil.
It really was a case of all hands on deck - wheelbarrows materialised from allotment holders and the neighbouring Boundary Brook Nature Reserve (see you soon xx), barrows and bags were filled and scooted down to their originally-intended destination, and as Goodgymers had to go home new helpers stepped in to help.
Team work really does make the dream work.
Finally laying down our tools at 8pm we had managed to shift a whopping 6.5 tonnes of soil and compost and restore access through the blocked gate.
Please note that this community mission has been cancelled.
Helen & Douglas House helps local families cope with the challenges of looking after a terminally ill baby or child. The hospice is a home from home for local terminally ill children and their families. They provide round-the-clock care in a warm, loving environment. Helen & Douglas House is a peaceful place where families can create happy memories in their last days, weeks, months or years together.
In March Helen & Douglas House started a new project to transform their garden.
The renewed outdoor space will include new sensory play equipment and swings, as well as special areas for use by different aged children. A wonderful new water feature, comfortable seating areas, a beautiful new flower garden and a herb garden are all planned. By the end of June they hope to have the garden renewed and reopened so more families can use the space at any one time. This requires a lot of volunteers to work alongside the professionals who are giving their expertise, so we've been recruited to help out.
Please bring your own gardening gloves.
4 GoodGym team mates helped at the The Leys Health Centre vaccine clinic. We did the tea and coffee rounds (with biscuits and chocolates - very important!), directed the car park, and Ruth had the super-responsible job of administrator. 487 vaccines administered.
What's the key to a great GoodGym gardening session? Well...tracking down the key to the garden is a great start! After a small delay to access we hit the ground running (metaphorically) in the garden of the Highfield ward in the unexpected evening sunshine. Splitting into 2 teams in separate garden sections, ably headed up by Ben and Sarah, we tooled up and spread out to spruce up the space.
The Highfield ward is the young person's ward at Warneford Hospital, so at times we had a small audience of teenagers inside (plenty of waves and friendly giggles). Mindful of the ticking clock we got to work - brambles were cut back and dug up, we uprooted nettles, weeded border shrubbery, scrapped moss off the patio area, and pruned for Britain. Wheelbarrow load after wheel barrow load of weeds were hauled onto a pile by the exit gates - key shenanigans meant that we couldn't get out to the compost pile until the end of the session and elicited plenty of jokes about not being let out until the garden was perfectly manicured! Everyone was fully in the zone so time flew by. I think we could happily have worked away for longer if daylight and our hungry-for-dinner tummies had allowed. At 7:30pm on the dot the ward staff came to release us and the task of wheeling load after load of weeds and bramble cuttings over to the compost pile round the back of the ward commenced. I lost count of the number of wheelbarrow loads, but certainly at least 13 (unlucky for some?) plus several plastic boxes worth were hauled out.
No rain, no hail - what a win!
I'm sure we'll be back at the Highfield again before too long - there's one section of the garden we haven't started yet, and plenty more we could do in the areas we have begun to work on.