A nation in lockdown
By 23 March last year, more than 2,000 people had contracted coronavirus in this country, and we saw a pause on life as we knew it. Schools and shops closed and people were told to stay at home. And St John Ambulance sprang into action.
Without hesitation, thousands of our first aid volunteers – normally seen keeping people safe at the public events, now cancelled – stepped forward for frontline training. In just a few months, we upskilled more than 5,000 first aiders to respond to Covid-19.
Providing vital support to the NHS
From March 2020, our clinically trained volunteers have given their skills and over 400,000 hours of their time to help the NHS respond to this national emergency.
They are putting their award-winning training to use in hospital emergency departments, intensive care wards and on ambulances. And they’re also caring for patients in our communities – supporting cancer, blood donation and homeless services, flu vaccination centres and behind-closed-doors sporting events helping to keep the country going.
When lockdown came into effect our face-to-face training stopped, and we had to find a way to keep teaching vital first aid skills to the public and key workers.
We created a series of free online learning packages to help you learn first aid. When in-person training was allowed again, we blended our digital training with Covid-safe face-to-face classes. During this time essential lifesaving skills were taught to more than 110,000 people.
We were so thankful to all our volunteers and how they stayed connected, continuing to support each other and our youth community. As one of the nation’s largest youth organisations, we were keen that our Badgers and Cadets, aged 7 to 17, stayed connected. Our weekly unit meetings went virtual and all manner of creative activities began, helping young people to keep in touch and keep their spirits high.
Hope on the horizon: NHS Covid-19 vaccination programme
Our volunteers continued to support when a Covid-19 vaccine was announced. They were joined by members of the public like you, who volunteered to play their part in what has been St John’s biggest role in peacetime: training more than 30,000 volunteers to help the NHS vaccinate the nation.
Our green T-shirted volunteers can be seen at vaccination centres from Newcastle to Newhaven. Some are giving the lifesaving vaccinations, others are reassuring and caring for patients.
What it felt like
In the toughest of times, there have been some terrible lows. But while we mourn all those whose lives have been lost to this dreadful disease, we reflect on how communities have come together during this time.
Here are some heart-warming responses from our volunteers and their experiences over the past year.