Ask us
about the difference we've made


If you’ve arrived here, you’re probably curious about what St John Ambulance did in one of the most extraordinary years any of us have faced. And we’re incredibly grateful you asked.

The big answer is that we stood tall with the nation and used every skill and resource at our fingertips to help communities across the country during the Covid 19 pandemic.

From heart wrenching moments of loss through to inspirational stories of hope and connection, St John people have risen to the challenges and met them head on. It hasn’t all been smooth sailing, facing an overnight halt to our training and event operations meant difficult decisions have had to be made, but through it all, it’s been our people that have shone through.

Come with us as we share the highs and lows of an extraordinary year.

You can read a detailed report of 2020 in our Annual Report.

St John Ambulance impart report


 1 million hours of Covid-19 care

1 million home.jpg

Ask us
what we did in 2020

January - March 2020

An emerging pandemic

St John Ambulance volunteers

14,000 hours of winter pressure to support the NHS

100s of public events took place safely because of the first aid cover we provided

Over 60,000 people trained in first aid

Our Ambulance Operations were rated 'good' by the Care Quality Commission

March 2020

The nation locks down

Preparing for lockdown

Crisis response structures put in place

NHS relationships agreed

Specialist Covid Care training developed and 375 trainers trained

April - June 2020

Covid's first wave

St John Ambulance volunteer in PPE

Over 4,000 volunteers trained in Covid care and logistics transformed

Difficult financial choices

Resilient and compassionate St John people

250,000 hours of frontline response in ambulances, hospitals and communities from April - December

July - September 2020

Lockdown eased

St John volunteer at a sporting event

Helping the return of live sport

Supporting the safe return of the night-time economy

Helping the NHS to catch up

Ensuring the safe return of first aid training at work

October - December 2020

A growing second wave

St John volunteers training for the pandemic

Increasing demand for ambulance and hospital volunteers

Planning for up to 30,000 vaccination volunteers

400 volunteer vaccinators trained

New fleet designed by St John volunteers and made possible by generous donations


120,000 hours spent on the road by our Ambulance Crews


125,000 hours volunteered in hospital emergency wards


50,000 hours given supporting community initiatives

At the start of the Covid-19 outbreak, I made the really difficult decision not to go home to my family but stay in my student house. I decided to stay because I knew I wanted to help.

I saw what a big effect I could have on people by doing quite small things. I didn’t feel as though I was doing anything special – I was just looking after people the way I’d want myself and my family to be looked after if we were in the same position.

Mary Strutt, 23, Volunteer in Southampton Hospital

Mary Strutt Volunteering.jpg

I didn’t think twice about doing it; I knew I had the skills to make a positive difference. I was doing four 12-hour shifts in a row, followed by four days off... The biggest challenge was being in someone’s house and having to take the patient to hospital, knowing their relatives may never see them again.

Zain Osmani, 26, Ambulance Crew in Brighton


I joined St John Ambulance in October 2020. I am an Operational First Aider, which in usual times would mean events but all I've known is COVID.

During the pandemic, I wanted to help in hospitals to try and alleviate some of the pressure on the NHS. My experience of working shoulder to shoulder with the staff there has been really positive.

Ask me why I volunteer? It brings a great sense of satisfaction to help someone in need. My day has been brightened so many times by laughing with a patient while treating them, or being able to do small but meaningful things, like making an end of life patient a last cup of tea.

Caspar Michie, 21, Operational First Aider

Caspar Michie in PPE

Ask us
how your donation will save lives

As a charity, we rely on donations from the public. Our work with young people and with volunteers would not be possible without your donations, every day we empower people of all ages with lifesaving skills and confidence to use them. Your donations help to make this training possible and help to ensure volunteers have the vehicles and equipment they need to deliver lifesaving first aid in the community.

Whilst mass participation events were unable to go ahead, our fundraisers have been very creative, finding new ways to support St John and engage with their communities.




2020 presented the world with some shared challenges to overcome, here at St John we faced some of our own which allowed us to reflect, learn and grow as an organisation. 

Ask me what lessons we learnt trying to recruit vaccination volunteers during the pandemic?

Standing up a recruitment process to attract, screen, interview and train over 26,000 volunteers working across multiple teams is a daunting prospect. We learnt from the experience of onboarding airline crew during the first wave of the pandemic that when the right people were brought together from across the organisation we were able to plan quickly and well, giving free rein to creativity in the design solution.

We know that we can further improve user experiences, whether in recruitment or once volunteers are established within the charity. This is shaping the retention programmes we’re building on the back of the vaccination programme. We’re learning how to harness the power of regular feedback from volunteers to keep improving their everyday experience.

Florence Orban, Head of Strategy & Digital Transformation

Ask me how we were able to deliver first aid training to young people in lockdown?

The impact of Covid, especially the difficulty of getting trainers into schools, meant we had to quickly re-evaluate our delivery methods. With face to face no longer a viable option we turned to online learning and digital tools.

Schools have been quick to adapt, with feedback telling us it provides a convenient and flexible way for students to learn. The quality of our services has not been compromised and our range of products are now designed to suit a wide range of learners.

Justine Wilson, Schools Digital Development Officer

Ask me how we've tackled the financial challenges St John experienced in 2020?

At the start of the pandemic we made the decision to support the nation to our full operational capacity. This coupled with having to close our main source of revenue – workplace first aid training - created a significant financial challenge. Our speed in taking difficult decisions, such as redundancies and a property estate review, allowed us not only to engage St John people in the process but, complemented by the generosity of our donors and support from the Government, allowed us to deliver our biggest single peacetime deployment. The close support of our trustees throughout was critical.

As we recover, it has highlighted the need to continue our work to diversify our income streams so that our vital work in communities across the country continues on a sustainable footing.

Yvonne Smithers, Director of Finance and Resources

Ask me how the pandemic has impacted our young people?

The pandemic has been challenging for many young people and a prolonged period of limited activity, often online only, has reduced our engagement with St John young people. However, we have been inspired by the role many St John young people have played in supporting fundraising, logistics and vaccination. We’re looking forward to restarting face-to-face services and the plans in progress already to expand our youth provision.

Mariam Ibrahim, Young Trustee

Our mental health has taken a hit, our education has suffered and our futures continue to be uncertain – at St John Ambulance we know that first aid saves lives and that those same skills can help young people at this critical time as we recover from the pandemic together.

Mariam Ibrahim, Young Trustee

Ask me why our people have pride in the organisation but have faced challenges speaking up?

Martin Houghton-Brown

The St John family is a multi-generational spread of people across the country who are incredibly skilled in their roles. They serve with huge pride under the St John badge and many of them volunteer dozens of hours every month. But we aspire as a community of people to be more representative of the communities we serve, better able to respond when people don’t demonstrate our HEART values and much better at resolving difficult conversations.

That is why we have committed to a Values in Action culture programme that will harness our collective efforts to shift to a much more dynamic way of dealing with issues and to make St John leaders best able to lead culturally as well as clinically.

Martin Houghton-Brown, CEO


Ask us
the difficult questions


Ask us
what's next?

Ensuring that St John remains well placed and ready to contribute to the health of communities in the months and years ahead means a commitment to continuous improvement.

Through our work with young people we are seeking to engage with disadvantaged communities and in 2021, we will be exploring how best to strike the balance between delivering and learning from this to educate for the future. Our goal is to bring life saving skills to communities where they’re most needed whether through existing Cadet and Badger programmes or newer NHS Cadets, Young Responders and Health Citizens schemes.

We continue to deliver our vital support to the NHS and communities through both ambulance, hospital and community response volunteering and our key role in supporting the Covid-19 vaccination programme.

As the country returns to normal you’ll also see our familiar green uniforms all over the country, at events, concerts and in city centres after dark.


St John Ambulance at the football

St John Ambulance night time economy

And over 2021-22 we’ll be seeing a steady roll out of our new Ambulance fleet. Innovations based on feedback from our volunteers are built in to these new vehicles, with driveability and usability two of the main features. The vehicles will replace an aging fleet, reducing our carbon footprint and giving people greater access to our services.

First aid really does save lives.

St John Ambulance production