Former Leeds GP becomes Covid vaccinator as Freemasons urged to volunteer
A retired Leeds GP will put his skills to good use as Freemasons across the country are being encouraged to volunteer in support of the Covid-19 vaccination rollout.
The organisation has urged its 200,000 members to offer their time and skills, as well as considering how their own buildings might prove useful in ensuring jabs can be delivered locally.
Dr Simon Fellerman, 64, is a member of The Lodge of Dawn - based at Castle Grove Masonic Hall in Headingley - and was part of the team at The Avenue Surgery in Alwoodley before retiring from clinical work in 2015.
He spent several months last year working in the Covid clinical assessment service and is now set to become a volunteer vaccinator at his former practice.
"You just want to help," he said. "If you've got a skill that other people haven't got, why wouldn't you use it? If you've got the time, do it."
Like many of those stepping forward to volunteer, Dr Fellerman cited the importance of getting as many people vaccinated as soon as possible and the potential it offers to bring the pandemic under control.
In preparation for serving as a volunteer vaccinator at Alwoodley Medical Centre from Wednesday, he was invited to get vaccinated himself last month.
It illustrated to him just how significant an undertaking it has been to set up a network of vaccination centres across the country at such pace.
"You walk into the car park and you can see the number of people just involved in telling people where to park their cars, welcoming you in, helping people with where to go," he said.
"It makes you realise it's a very well oiled system. Whatever Government have or haven't done, the one thing they can usually rely on is they've got a fantastic network of primary care when it comes to vaccines. They do it every year with the flu vaccines."
Providing people with more easy-to-access information on the vaccine programme and its progress is among the requests being made through our A Shot In The Arm campaign.
Led by the Yorkshire Evening Post and sister titles across JPIMedia, it also asks for further reassurance for local communities and urges Prime Minister Boris Johnson to deploy the country’s network of 11,000 pharmacies to ensure that every citizen is only a short walk away from a vaccination centre.
And the Freemasons have recognised that offering up their own buildings to act as vaccination centres is a way in which they can help to improve access.
Masonic halls in Hertfordshire, Kent, Cheshire and elsewhere have been opened up to GP surgeries working together to offer thousands of vaccinations each week in their local communities.
It is a reflection of the community ethos that saw more than 18.5 million hours of volunteer work undertaken by Freemasons in 2018.
Dr Fellerman said: "Freemasons do want to help and be involved in their local community and that's why Freemasons have been encouraged to offer their halls as vaccination centres."
The United Grand Lodge of England (UGLE), the governing body for Freemasonry in England and Wales, has been using its monthly email to members and official social media channels to share the call to support the vaccination programme.
Dr David Staples, chief executive of the UGLE, said: "Now that we have the vaccine in the UK, it is crucial that we help in every way we can to protect the population. If the NHS needs people, then we are happy to encourage and emphasise the importance of this to our members.
“We want to support the NHS and show our gratitude for its people’s efforts and the amazing job they have done during the pandemic. Freemasons always stand behind our core values of friendship, integrity, charity and respect – and we are proud to help so many people.”
Visit nhsvolunteerresponders.org.uk to find out more about volunteering for the vaccination programme.
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