Charity Recreation Club reinvents itself again

The Royal Free Charity’s Recreation Club has once again re-purposed itself because of challenges posed by the pandemic, opening last Friday (January 15) as a community vaccination hub.

The hub, currently run by local GPs, will vaccinate up to 1,000 people a day, depending on the availability of the vaccine, as part of the nationwide programme to protect the population from COVID-19. Patients will be invited according to their clinical priority and the hub will initially be open three days a week from 8am to 6pm but will soon be open every day.

During the first wave of the pandemic, the club turned the sports hall into a free supermarket providing food and other essentials so that frontline NHS workers could avoid having to join high street queues after long shifts.

Kelly Rush, manager of the club, said: “Staff quickly adapted to working in ways they couldn’t have imagined in order to turn thousands of daily donations from local businesses into practical bundles of items for staff.

“Then, once the first lockdown ended, we were able to re-open the club in July for our members, our team having re-designed the sports hall again and brought the gym equipment downstairs to comply with all government guidelines. I’m immensely proud of the club team.”

In the lead-up to Christmas, with gyms closed again, various charity staff, including the club team, once again turned their hands to a new task – this time fulfilling a pledge to give all 10,000 staff at the Royal Free London’s three hospitals presents and thank-you messages from the public.

“No sooner was that done than work started on this latest re-purposing of the club,” said Jon Spiers, Royal Free Charity chief executive. “Volunteer marshals will support the GPs by helping the flow of patients into and around the hub. We’re incredibly grateful to our staff for their flexibility and now these volunteers for giving up their time. And of course it’s our generous donors who make our work possible.

“It’s great to see staff and volunteers are once again stepping up, this time to do their bit in this extraordinary mission to vaccinate the nation,” he added.

People should not contact the hospital or the charity to book a vaccination. The GP group managing the vaccine hub will contact those eligible according to the priority groups.