Leila is a Together Co ambassador. As both a Together Co Befriending member and volunteer, she understands many of the challenges faced by people who spend a lot of time alone. Here, she writes about her experience as a volunteer supporting people as the vaccine is rolled out across Brighton and Hove.

Not for a long time have people waited quite as anxiously for something as we are right now. On the one hand, our scheme members are asking where theirs is. On the other hand, volunteers are wondering after everyone’s.

Yes – you’ve guessed it. I’m talking about the roll out of the COVID-19 vaccine across the city.  

I don’t think I’m the only person who has this conversation with people on a daily basis. Nobody knows when they will get their invitation and this is causing a lot of concern, especially for our members – who are generally more vulnerable.

There are several strategies to help people while they are waiting. It’s good to start by trying to understand the individual’s worries. Are they extremely vulnerable? Have they lost loved ones or are worried about their own longevity? Worried they will be very ill if they contract the virus? Once people have the chance to get things off their mind, there is a likelihood they will feel less anxious. After all, a problem shared is a problem halved.

It’s also good for everyone to talk about how they want to see things in the future. What do they most want to do once they’ve been vaccinated? Is it that they want to see their loved ones? Get back to their day centre? Rekindle with their lunch club?

Maybe we all just want that sense of normality back that a trip to the café brings. Maybe we just want to catch up with our Together Co matches in person again, and have a trip to the park or beach.  What was “normal” in the past? Did it make us happy? And how will we fit into society again in the future?

Constantly reminding each other that we haven’t been forgotten and observing our fears goes a long way to help. People worry about how they will get to their allotted vaccine centre. How can we allay their fears?

Kindness and compassion towards our fellow humans will help them and us. Throughout the lockdowns over the last year, we haven’t had much freedom.  We do however, have short days, long nights and not many places we can go. Whether you are stuck in front of Zoom meetings all day and need something different to do, or you are furloughed and need to split up the day, take a break to give someone a ring. By sharing your thoughts and offering an open ear, you may be able to decrease the apprehension someone is suffering – and rest your mind too.

Update: Since Leila wrote this blog, many vulnerable groups (including those 70+) have now had their vaccine as nationwide services continue to roll out vaccinations.

For the latest information regarding the COVID-19 vaccination in Brighton & Hove, visit the council’s website.

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