An Ilford church was transformed into a pop-up vaccine clinic to get the first dose of the Covid jab to as many people as possible.

On Saturday, February 27, City Gates Church, was another example of vaccine centres popping up in places of worship, where people of all faiths might feel more comfortable getting the jab.

Ilford Recorder: Pastor Steve and Michele Ngabonziza helped host the event at City Gates Church.Pastor Steve and Michele Ngabonziza helped host the event at City Gates Church. (Image: City Gates Church)

The event was organised by Healthbridge Direct and Loxford PCN and the AstraZeneca vaccine was administered to a mixture of churchgoers and people from the community.

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.

Loxford PCN manager Sonia Nosheen thanked Pastor Steve and his staff for their hospitality and said it was part of their proactive effort to reach as many people as possible.

Ilford Recorder: Pastor Steve and Noel Robinson at the vaccine pop-up clinic.Pastor Steve and Noel Robinson at the vaccine pop-up clinic. (Image: City Gates Church)

One attendee Noel Robinson, a successful musician and gospel singer, said he was excited to get the jab as he is diabetic and it could help him get on with his life.

He said he was happy to go to his church "not just for my spiritual wellbeing but also to look after our physical wellbeing".

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.”