DARLINGTON Building Society has been praised for providing volunteers to support the Covid-19 vaccination programme.

The Society has been one of the main sources of volunteer marshals for the life-saving jabs that have been given since the start of the year at Feethams House, in Darlington town centre.

The programme has been rolled out by Darlington Primary Care Network, with Darlington Cares helping to organise volunteers.

More than 600 doses of either the Pfizer or AstraZeneca vaccine were given in the first week, with all residents of Darlington care homes given the initial stage of protection by the end of January.

And Darlington Building Society staff have been among the first to volunteer as marshals – meeting and greeting elderly vulnerable people, looking after them, and escorting them to the vaccination areas.

Trish Brown, Executive Assistant to the Chief Executive Officer, has acted as volunteer co-ordinator for the Society for the past five years, and says she has never seen a response like it.

“The staff were keen to play their part because they felt they were doing something really useful to help in the fightback against the virus,” said Trish, who has volunteered as a marshal herself, in addition to her role as co-ordinator.

“The opportunity to do this has been a big positive in terms of mental health and well-being because the staff took great pride in being able to make a difference, and see the progress that’s being made.

“Acting as a marshal has involved meeting elderly people, some of them in wheelchairs, and reassuring them, or holding their hands through the process. Then, afterwards, it’s been a case of delivering them safely back to their loved ones.

“It has really struck me how vulnerable some of the people being vaccinated in the first wave have been, and how anxious they are, but it’s been a privilege for all of us to do our bit.”

Every employee of the Society is given two days paid volunteering time a year and, since the start of 2021, more than 70 hours has been donated to supporting the vaccination programme.

At times, the Society has responded to the need for volunteer marshals at just 24-hours’ notice, with the following staff regularly volunteering as marshals: Caroline Bailey, Jayne Barrie Curtis, Trish Brown, June Cuthbert, Alison Etherington, Ginny Parry,  Gillian Robinson, Sarah Rose, Sharon Stapleton, Bev Temple, and Carole Wilson.

Seth Pearson, Darlington Cares director, said: “The response to the call out for volunteers to support the vaccination centre has been truly humbling, and once again Darlington Building Society has demonstrated that it stands shoulder to shoulder with the people of Darlington.”

The Society also provided volunteer marshals for the flu vaccinations at the Darlington Arena in the autumn.