Call for Lewisham residents to volunteer in Vaccine Bus initiative

By Lewis Budd and Olivia Haller-Clarke

An independent charity based in Lewisham has called on locals to continue their help with getting Lewisham residents vaccinated against Covid-19.  

The Voluntary Services Campaign based in Lewisham (VSL) is looking for volunteers to enlist as drivers to transport elderly residents to vaccination clinics and to get involved with its Vaccine Bus initiative which aims to get the elderly, vulnerable and isolated members of the local community vaccinated.  

VSL volunteers have been using the Vaccine Bus to reach parts of Lewisham that are often hard to reach or access people who find it difficult to access public transport and local services. 

They drive with the vaccination equipment to local colleges, day centres, medical centres and churches, acting as pop-up vaccination clinics throughout the day. 

The Vaccine Bus service has also helped hundreds of homeless and mentally unwell people gain access to a much-needed vaccination, the use of the bus allows volunteers to establish themselves in communities that are often far away from a GP.  

Volunteer car owners are also needed by VSL to help take vulnerable people to be vaccinated for Covid-19.

The charity requires the following from new volunteers:

  • Two hours per week of availability 
  • Safe driving, cleanliness and a willingness to use PPE.
  • A recent DBS check 

VSL has offered assistance to get a DBS check for volunteers without one.

 Lewisham mayor, Damien Egan, recently tweeted a plea to raise awareness for the charity, directing interested participants to email to get involved.

 Vaccinating the homeless

VSL has also been working with NHS Lewisham to help ensure everyone, including homeless people, in the community has access to the Covid-19 vaccination programme with the use of the Vaccine Bus.

The number of households in temporary accommodation in Lewisham has risen by over 50% in the past five years and the council reports showed they had worked with over 200 rough sleepers in response to Covid-19, a rise of over 35% since 2015-16.

Registering with a GP has also become increasingly harder for vulnerable people such as asylum seekers and the homeless during the pandemic as the registration process has moved online.

Lack of online access has made getting a vaccination increasingly challenging for many.

Councillor Paul Bell, Cabinet Member for housing and planning said: “I am very grateful to the NHS for their hard work in rolling out the Covid-19 vaccine across Lewisham.

“It’s great to see that our homeless residents, including those who are sleeping rough, will soon be vaccinated and protected against the virus.”

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