Thousands of volunteers are being sought to help deliver a Covid-19 vaccine across England once it gets approved.
St John Ambulance is encouraging people to help support the NHS as it prepared to deliver an unprecedented mass vaccination programme.
Up to 30,000 volunteers will be required for a range of rolls from delivering the vaccines, supporting roles and helping people who need one-to-one support in the process.
The charity has been working relentlessly during the pandemic to support communities and the NHS through caring for patients on board ambulances and helping in hospitals.
It has also been helping with community projects including this year’s seasonal flu vaccinations.
Richard Lee, chief operating officer at the charity, said: “We are proud to have been asked to lead the voluntary sector’s contribution in helping the NHS deliver its mass vaccination programme.
“This new agreement highlights just how much respect our charity has won during our ongoing response to the pandemic, as the nation’s health reserve and a trusted partner to the NHS.
“St John people are best known for helping the events that bring communities together happen – everything from football matches to firework displays. Like everyone else, we are keen to get back to normal and mass vaccination is a vital way of making that happen.
“Between now and spring 2021, we have plans to train more than 30,000 volunteers, using our longstanding expertise in empowering people with lifesaving clinical skills and the confidence to use them, every day.
“We have started upskilling our first aid trained volunteers and staff for this new work.
“More than 2,000 St John volunteers have signed up for this programme in just over a week, and we will be working on targeted recruitment to grow our capacity across a range of clinical and supporting roles, with the first cohort ready by December 1.”
All volunteers will be given appropriate training.
Those who will be delivering vaccines will receive clinical training, including courses developed by Public Health England, and they will be given the appropriate personal protective equipment.