A godsend – thousands to get Covid-19 jab at church
Up to 1,000 people a day could receive Covid-19 jabs over the coming months at St Peter’s Baptist Church which has undergone a transformation for the delivery of vaccines.
Internal renovations have been carried out by teams that established the Nightingale hospitals to set up the vaccination centre at the church in collaboration with Public Health England and the NHS.
The church’s Senior Minister, the Rev Mark Elder, said: “We were approached because, clearly, they saw the potential of using this building.
“I think they came here and they looked at the car park, looked at the downstairs and thought ‘this could work’.
“There aren’t that many buildings that could have the resources or structure to do it.”
He added: “We as a church felt this was the right thing in a national emergency and to make our contribution.
“We have been working with the community all the way from the beginning in terms of supporting people who couldn’t get out there.
“This place has been used as a hub for the Foodbank collections, which will continue into the new year.”
Mr Elder said church members had agreed unanimously the church should be used as a vaccination centre, adding: “It received overwhelming support.”
He explained: “Because of the way this is being rolled out across the country they’re realising they’re going to have to roll out these vaccines and they’re going to use places other than hospitals and doctors’ surgeries.”
He added: “We’re obviously going to turn some things round and do things differently as a result of it.”
That would include relocating various groups that used the church for activities to different spaces within the church building.
Vaccinations would not take place on Sundays, when church services would take place in line with Covid-19 restrictions.
Contracts have been drawn up for the church’s use as a vaccination centre, with Mr Elder saying: “It’s not every day a church signs a contract of this nature. It’s all completely new territory.
“They have essentially established bays or booths within the main hall and all other downstairs will be used for storage for their equipment.
“There’s big spaces for the vaccinations to take place and the reception is to welcome people.”
An entrance awning has also been put in front of the doors to the church.
Mr Elder said: “We may potentially have 1,000 people a day coming through this building.
“It doesn’t mean that our church activities will stop. It does mean we will do some of them slightly differently.
“I’m proud of the church in serving the community in this way. It really is an overflow of the mission of the church, really.
“It obviously gives us an opportunity to engage in an unprecedented way.
“Who would have thought last Christmas that 2020 would turn out as it has?
“We don’t want to be on the fringes doing nothing when we have got the resources to help in this way.
“We are where we are and we’re trying to make the most of a national and international emergency.”