Alan’s story

When I asked Alan what he did he said ‘Cobblers’. It turns out Alan was not being rude; he runs his own Cobbler business in Southbourne.

Alan had seen the figures for COVID-19 going up so made the decision to close his business voluntarily for 2 weeks to help with the effort of slowing the infection down.

He heard about the COVID-19 Marshalling from the online Echo and decided to sign up. Alan said, ‘I wanted to help, even if it meant what I was doing helped reduced the amount of time we were living with COVID-19 by half a second, it would be worth it.’

‘It doesn’t matter who you meet on shift you can chat as if you were old friends. ‘I enjoy helping people and putting a smile on their faces’. Alan says it is a ‘good laugh’ and has enjoyed being around other people doing something positive for his community and playing a part in the COVID-19 vaccination program.

When asked what advice he would give to anyone looking to volunteer Alan replied, ‘Do it, it has been the most worthwhile thing I have done’. It has been an opportunity for Alan to be involved in a nationwide effort and to put his skills to good use. Although Alan has opened his shop again, he is still volunteering in the evenings and on his days off.

Charlie’s story

This was Charlie’s first shift at the BIC vaccine site. When I met him, he was marshalling people at the front of the queue to receive their vaccinations.

After receiving his vaccination at St Leonard’s Hospital, Charlie thought that volunteering to help with the vaccination project was something he wanted to get involved with. So, he went home and googled volunteer roles for Covid marshaling and came across the work CAN was doing. He did not think he could volunteer as he was at higher risk with Cerebral Palsy, but after having his vaccine and as the rates reduced, he decided he wanted to be involved.

This is not Charlie’s first volunteering role. He told me that he has been helping about at Wimborne Folk festival for the last 5 years, at Camp Bestival and is a student ambassador at his local 6TH form college at Brockenhurst where he has been involved with several open days welcoming potential students to the college.

I asked Charlie what he enjoyed about volunteering and he said’ I enjoy the human interaction, whether it is a 3 minute or a quick chat’ ‘I enjoy helping people, as lots of people have helped me with my disability and I wanted to give something back’.

His advice to anyone looking to volunteer is to ‘Go for it, CAN have been very supportive, I have enjoyed it and the induction was very thorough’.

Charlie is moving to London in September to study politics at university and he hopes to be able to get involved with volunteering at his university and in and around London.  

Wing's story


Wing is 17 years old and currently studying Core Math’s, Physics, Electronics’ and Geography at Poole Grammar school he hopes to become an Electrical engineer and travel around the world. When he is not studying, he is a Volunteer Scout Youth Leader which he has done every Friday for the last 4 years, gaining amongst other things sailing and First Aid qualifications.

I asked him what made him want to volunteer at the BIC. He said ‘My head of year put out an email to us asking if we wanted to volunteer. As I was not doing much at home I decided to join up and plus it would look good on my CV.’

Wing has become a dab hand at making the volunteers’ hot drinks, which have been very welcome. He has enjoyed meeting new people and being involved in a totally new experience.




Lili's story

Lili is Wing’s younger sister who is 16 years old. She is studying Art, History, Geography and Astronomy at Parkstone Grammar. She learnt about the volunteering role through her brother.

I asked her, if like her brother, she would be using this experience to add to her CV, her reply was ‘no, I hadn’t even thought about that, I just like people and it was an opportunity to talk to people that I would not normally have met of all ages and it was a chance to get out of the house.’

I asked if many of her friends had volunteered and she said ‘no, they asked me why I am doing it and I said why not? you get to talk to people and its not much effort to do it.’

This was her and her brothers second shift and they have had the chance to volunteer in all areas. I asked what she enjoyed about volunteering, apart from meeting people, she said ‘I enjoy the coffee.’ She would like to carry on volunteering after this role finishes.


Sheena’s Story

Before COVID-19 hit Sheena lived in France running her own Management Consultancy business. Due to the pandemic Sheena moved back to the UK to support her mother and stepfather, becoming their full-time carer alongside trying to fit in some work.

It was through CRISP- Carer’s Support Service, that Sheena found out about volunteer opportunities at the BIC Vaccination site. She decided to volunteer as she wanted to do something for the community but also for her own mental health wellbeing.

Sheena says, ‘Volunteering allows me to check out of my current situation and do something positive’ Her situation was made more difficult by the recent loss of her stepfather and not having her family around her to hug.

Sheena has found that the people coming to be vaccinated are so grateful and for some this is the first time they have been out of their homes and seen other people for almost a year.

Her advice to anyone looking to volunteer is to ‘Just do it! Don’t be nervous, it is well supervised and organised’ She hopes to be able to continue volunteering as it has been an important lifeline for her during a particularly challenging period.


Elaine’s story

Elaine is no stranger to volunteering as she helps at schools and a friendly food club. She also signed up to the CAN Together we Can project at the start of the first lockdown. These roles are very different to her previous job as a Business Consultant.

Elaine says she volunteers,’ as you feel you want to do something’ ‘Its good to see people pulling together more and doing something positive’.

Elaine enjoys ‘Nattering’ to the other volunteers and people coming in for their vaccinations. ‘It’s good to get out of the house and talk to people.’

She hopes when life starts to get back to some sort of normality that she can return to her previous roles.


Altaf’s story

Altaf can usually be found volunteering 2 days a week at a Macmillan Hospice.  He could be taking round the refreshment trolley, helping to serve meals or using his compassion and understanding to support patients and their loved ones during a very difficult time.

Due to COVID-19 Altaf has had to temporarily pause his volunteering with the hospice. This has left a gap in Altaf’s life, so when he saw an advert go out on Twitter from CAN for the Vaccination site at the BIC, he decided to sign up to help.

Altaf is now a fully-fledged buggy driver and Marshall, providing a friendly face to people coming to the site for a vaccine.

Altaf feels that volunteering gives him a purpose. He said, ‘This has been a life changing moment for the world’. It is important to him to help people and make someone’s day better.

He would advise anyone to volunteer and ‘help make a difference.’

He is enjoying his role at the BIC and meeting new people. But in the back of his mind are the staff at the hospice who are having to now take over the roles he did when volunteering and providing care to the patients. He has kept up his support for the unit and team by fundraising and cooking curries for the staff which they can have after a long shift. He hopes that he will be able to return to the Hospice soon and carry on his volunteering work.

Heather’s story

After meeting Heather, I felt that I could learn a great deal from her as she has been volunteering for several years.

Amongst other roles Heather has worked as a Counsellor and Social worker. She also volunteers with Macmillan as an adviser and as a bereavement listener for a hospital hospice.  

Along with her husband, who was a Volunteer Centre Manager, they have recently moved to the area.

Heather has found volunteering a great way to get to know people and find out about other areas such as the work of the St John’s Ambulance team.

Heather said, ‘In helping others you help yourself’. She feels that for many people the last year has really impacted their mental health. She believes that Volunteering is a good way back into the community for anyone who has been struggling with this and sees it as a great opportunity.  

Heather said, ‘everyone I have met has made me feel welcome.’ Heather and her husband, Bill, have been working shifts together, she tells me that during this time he has cleaned a great many chairs! As soon as she is able Heather will be continuing with her other volunteering roles.