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Polly loving her two volunteer roles as responder and vaccine steward

Peterborough Matters speaks to Polly Watson, a hairdresser turned NHS Volunteer responder and vaccine steward at Peterborough City Care Centre - one of the many volunteers behind the scenes who have kept the country going during the Covid pandemic.
Polly Watson at the new vaccination hub

Polly, 62, has been furloughed three times in the past ten months from her day job as a hairdresser, during the trio of lockdowns and various tier systems.

So in April she became one of the thousands of people in Peterborough and the UK to sign up with the NHS Volunteer responders, helping countless vulnerable individuals, couples and families who for a variety of reasons cannot go out for themselves.

And earlier this week she began another role as a volunteer - this time as a vaccine steward at the mass vaccination hub at Peterborough Care Centre.

Polly, who works at Michael John Hair Artwork, said: "I have received the money through the furlough scheme; the government has helped me, so I thought I would give them something back.

"I did a course on assisting people with dementia and helping people who are vulnerable, then my police checks, and then started.

"The help we provide includes checking in for a chat, collecting shopping, prescriptions, or taking them to hospital/ doctor appointments. 

"We use the GoodSAM app which is quite flexible as it allows you to accept or reject shifts. It was quite funny when I got the first alert; it's quite a loud siren and I was in a supermarket, so I just dropped my basket and ran out, not realising that it was for the following Thursday!

"That was at the time when it was taking 40 minutes to get in because of the queues, so I just left it.

"Just this morning I picked up a prescription for a gentleman from the shop, and then visited a dementia patient in a nursing home.

"I love volunteering, it keeps me sane, and I have got a lot out of it - probably more than the people who I visit to be honest. Sometimes we are the only people they speak to all day."

This week Polly started another volunteering role at the care centre on Thorpe Road, signing up just after Christmas.

The role is perhaps fitting, as her son Nathan works for AstraZeneca in Cambridge, near Papworth Hospital.

Her role involves assisting those receiving their jab to the appointment room, then on to receiving the jab itself, and then to an observation room where recipients sit for 15 minutes to make sure they are not suffering from any after effects.

She said: "I was on the first shift as one of five volunteers, and received my vaccine on the first day - I felt very humbled."

From next week Polly will have shifts pending at both the Peterborough Care Centre and also Halls Chemist in Orton Wistow.

She intends to carry on with both volunteering roles simultaneously, and said: "Throughout the vaccine roles I have found the patients, NHS Staff and volunteers to be so enthusiastic, efficient and friendly. 

"The work being done in these vaccine centres has been amazing and seamless, and so, so essential. I will continue to volunteer for as long as needed."