The cycle of negative news throughout the pandemic has left many switching off their screens. However, the recent announcement of the nation-wide vaccination programme has provided a glimmer of hope in what has been one of the darkest of years. Stories of community spirit are returning to the headlines and one charity in particular, Neston Community Youth Centre, has a lot to celebrate.
NCYC, located in a Rural Market Town in Cheshire West, have reflected the SCC spirit: that although small, you can make a huge impact. The speed in their response meant that in their first weekend they were able to vaccinate 1100 over 80’s within the local area. Following this success, they were supplied with another batch which meant that nearly all over 75’s in the area had been vaccinated. Overall, a staggering 2380 vaccinations had taken place over the course of 5 days.
This incredible response reflects the the amazing capabilities of local charities across the UK: the ability to garner community spirit. As we have seen throughout the pandemic, many have come to understand the importance of giving back. Neston, like many other smaller communities, do not have the facilities to provide such an extensive vaccination programme. However, this did not stop volunteers from offering their help to ensure that vaccinations could be carried out both quickly and safely. Volunteers were only allowed to an hour because Neston did not have the resources to be able to provide volunteers with the usual facilities or food for longer shifts. Nevertheless, an incredible 201 volunteers provided 480 hours of work in 6 days. The power local community and local charities should not be underestimated.
To create a successful local vaccination programme, which includes varying networks working together, Gareth Prytherch, Manager at NCYC said that key to this is engagement. Neston Community Youth Centre, prior to the pandemic, had engaged with their community in various ways: musical festivals, community cinema, the big lunch, befriending service, wildlife festival, a job centre, citizens advice centre. When a community centre can provide a service, the people they serve will give the same back. But even more key to their success, Gareth said, it is about the ask. Having worked in the voluntary sector since he was 17, he said that “if you are direct and clear in your ask, volunteers will flock.”. When NCYC asked local people if they were able to make some extra Christmas dinners for those who are alone this year, the turnout was 176 hot dinners, made and delivered to those who needed them most.
Small charities can make a little go a long way, and NCYC have proven that the local community can provide much more than expected.