Covid-19 vaccination clinic held at Ilford church

03 March 2021

A vaccination pop-up clinic took place at a church in Ilford as part of the ongoing efforts to encourage eligible people across the borough to have their COVID-19 jab. 

The clinic at City Gates Church was organised in partnership with local GPs.

All of those vaccinated were within the priority groups, in line with national guidance, and had pre-booked appointments through a special vaccine hotline. City Gates Church used its communications channels to contact those eligible and helped get the message out to people of all faiths.

The session was primarily aimed at people aged 16-64 with underlying health conditions and those aged 65 or over who had not yet taken up the offer of a covid vaccination. It was hoped that running it at the church would encourage eligible residents – including those in the local black, Asian and ethnic minority (BAME) community – to come forward to have their jab.

Ilford GP Dr Najib Seedat, who led the vaccination team, said

“The clinic was very successful – we had a great response from the church’s congregration and those in the local community. The turn-out was so good that the clinic was fully booked.

“We had some very constructive conversations with patients and members of the City Gates team about how we can encourage more people to come forward for vaccination.

“We agreed that one-to-one conversations with personal contact play an important part in helping us address hesitancy in our harder to reach communities. It’s also clear that a partnership approach is crucial, so we are very grateful for the support provided by City Gates in hosting this session.”

Steve Derbyshire, Lead Pastor at City Gates Church, said

“We were pleased to see so many people at the clinic, not only from our congregation but from the wider community. We know uptake has been slower in the BAME community and that people might be more comfortable having their vaccination in their place of worship in the company of those they know and trust, so it was reassuring to see such a good turn-out on the day. 

“We also broadcast the session on Premier Christian Radio and received some really positive feedback. We firmly believe vaccination is the best way to combat the pandemic so we were very happy to host the clinic and will continue to support the NHS to help protect our communities.”

Among those vaccinated was successful musician and gospel singer Noel Robinson. After having his jab, he encouraged others from an Afro-Caribbean background to have theirs.

He said: “As someone with an underlying health condition, in my case diabetes, I’m really excited to come to my church – not just for spiritual wellbeing – but to look after my physical wellbeing.

“So if you’re like me, I encourage you to get vaccinated too – to protect yourself from Covid-19.”

The clinic on Saturday (27 February) was organised on behalf of the local NHS by GPs from HealthBridge Direct and Loxford Primary Care Network, working with City Gates Church. 

The clinic forms part of the work being done by the NHS and its partners to give the facts about the vaccine to build trust in local communities – explaining it is safe and effective, there are no animal or egg products, it is vegan, halal and kosher friendly, and that having the vaccine is the best form of protection from COVID-19 and our best chance to return to a normal way of life.

The session could be replicated elsewhere to make vaccinations as accessible as possible to local people, in what is the biggest vaccination programme in NHS history.

Dr Anil Mehta, Chair of NHS Redbridge Clinical Commissioning Group, said

“We are delighted that our partners are wholeheartedly supporting the vaccination programme with initiatives, such as this pop-up clinic in Ilford, and we are continuing to work with groups in our Hindu, Sikh, Jewish and other local communities to encourage more people to come forward.

“We urge everyone to have the jab when offered but please continue to follow government guidelines to reduce transmission and help save lives.”