Jennie Randall is a Volunteer and Historian based in Bromley, we asked Jennie what it was like volunteering with BGPA. Here’s what she said:
As the historian for Jubilee Country Park at Petts Wood, I’ve been inspired by many stories of local people I’ve met who were keen to ‘do their bit’ during the Second World War, whether serving on the home front or in the military services. I always used to say that if there ever were a similar emergency in my lifetime, I too would want to be working on the frontline playing my part and making a useful contribution to the war effort. Therefore, in the fight against Covid 19, the opportunity arose to volunteer at vaccination centres and I knew I had to be there.
Of all people, I’m probably one of the most unlikely to be working in a medical environment as, after some very unfortunate experiences in the past, I am renowned for being terrified of doctors and hospitals! However, I had no intention of letting that stand in my way – in fact, it actually proved to be a great advantage. I found it enabled me to empathise with patients who were nervous or apprehensive and helped me to give them reassurance.
I’ve been volunteering now since January 2021 for Bromley GP Alliance in Bromley, Orpington, Mottingham, at pop-up centres in Biggin Hill, Phoenix Children’s Resource Centre and the Crown Medical Centre as well as for the NHS at Bromley Civic Centre. I’ve been on the door meeting and greeting patients, asking questions to complete their paperwork, guiding them to vaccinators and, in the early days, manning the recovery room.
The best part of the role for me is interaction with the patients – thousands and thousands of them! I just love meeting people and doing whatever I possibly can to help them. I particularly like the times when it’s incredibly busy and we’re working under immense pressure as I thrive in that sort of environment. However hectic things are though, there is always time for a little chat and sometimes a giggle too. I have met some wonderful characters who I will never forget. The vast majority of the patients are extremely grateful for the opportunity to have the vaccination. Just a few were not quite so appreciative! However, I quite enjoy dealing with people who are challenging. Having worked as a Personal Banker for Barclays Bank I found the customer service skills I had learned there were invaluable.
One of the great benefits of volunteering for me is that I’ve made lots of new friends amongst the vaccinators and volunteers who I’ve been working alongside – they’re a really lovely bunch!
Outside of the clinic, I am involved in many other voluntary activities. I do conservation work at Jubilee Country Park where I was the Chairman of the Friends group for eight years and am now the Projects Manager. I’ve also written two history books, both of which raise funds for charity. I visit many local groups giving talks about the V2 rocket attack on the Crooked Billet, my fee for which goes to support the work of Foal Farm Animal Rescue Centre at Biggin Hill. I’m also currently fund-raising for the DEC Humanitarian Appeal for Ukraine. I’m a very keen walker, both alone and with the rambling group Enbro. My enthusiasm for walking has been a great advantage at the vaccination clinics where I did a huge amount of walking – probably several miles every day!
I would thoroughly recommend volunteering as it is both rewarding and fun. What an achievement it has been to see life returning to normal as a result of vaccinations and to know, albeit in a very small way, I did my bit.
This blog was written by Jennie Randall, volunteer and historian.