Helping at a mass vaccination centre - Sandy's Story
"Without GoodGym, I'm not sure I would have coped as well during lockdown"
April 06, 2021
GoodGym Slough member Sandy Dhaliwal tells us what it’s like helping at a Covid-19 vaccination centre, how GoodGym has been her lifeline during the pandemic and what she’s most looking forward to post-lockdown.
The Salt Hill Activity Centre in Slough is usually a venue for soft play, trampolining and bowling. In December last year it was transformed into one of the UK’s first mass vaccination sites and GoodGym members helped from the start.
Sandy explains: “It offers a wonderful excuse to reunite with friends, while also giving our time to a meaningful purpose. The role itself is all about supporting the NHS key workers throughout the whole vaccination process by assisting patients and staff.”
A typical shift involves welcoming patients, asking screening questions, crowd control, recording details, offering masks and sanitiser, signposting people and helping afterwards with information to take home. “Our job is generally being friendly and helping people stay at ease during the whole process” she adds. “Many coming in have been isolating for most of last year so it can be quite daunting. Others just fancy a natter and have a million stories to tell or feel relief to be getting vaccinated.”
Sandy says the atmosphere at the centre is extremely upbeat. She adds: “We like being proactive and helping the amazing NHS staff, who are truly inspirational.”
Living through a global pandemic has been a tough experience for many of us, and Sandy is no exception. She admits: “I really struggled at the beginning as I am living at home and saving to buy my first property. It was difficult not having my own space and feeling confined with the same people. I felt isolated, deflated and like my life was at a standstill.”
She felt worried about family, some who had caught the virus, her work was busier than ever and she felt anxious about those not following the rules.
“It all took a toll on my confidence and mood” she adds “but exercising most days and establishing a bit of a routine, outside of working from home, really helped my wellbeing. It just took some time to adjust.”
One of the things that helped her through it was virtual fitness challenges with her GoodGym friends. Now, shifts at the vaccine centre have been “a bit of a lifeline” for Sandy. “It has given me a purpose. The social interaction was something I didn't realise I needed so much, but has been invaluable to my wellbeing.”
“Without Goodgym, I am not sure I would have coped as well as I have.”
Sandy says GoodGym helped her turn her feelings of frustration and powerlessness around. “I think the pandemic has led to so many people struggling in many ways but because I am volunteering on a regular basis and interacting with people (at a distance), I feel like I am making myself useful” she continues “it has helped me to stay grounded and positive.”
Sandy is excited for the future. She tells us: “I finally saved enough to buy a property and will be moving into my new place in the next few months – I’m excited about moving forward in life again.”
She is also longing for gigs, beer gardens and socials with GoodGym Slough – plus a very special date.
“I met a special person at a gig in January 2020, but they are based in California” she explains. “We had all these plans to meet last year but the pandemic put a stop to it and while we maintained contact, I am looking forward to having a chat and a drink in person when they are able to return to the UK.”
“There's so much to be excited about this year!”
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