Middlesbrough College students give it their best shot in fight against COVID

11 February 2021

Caring students from Middlesbrough College have volunteered on the front line in the vaccination effort against COVID-19.

More than 20 students studying Health and Social Care courses at all levels are working alongside nurses and doctors at The James Cook University Hospital.

Debi McKeown, lead nurse for Therapeutic Care, has been coordinating the eager volunteers who’ve been praised for their efforts.

She said: “The students are doing a fantastic job to help us get people vaccinated in the hospital.

“They’ve been showing patients where they need to go, making them cups of teas, chatting with them to make them feel less nervous and even running samples to our labs.

“It’s made even better by the fact they’ve all personally chosen to be here at such an important time for the NHS. They’re all absolutely amazing and I really can’t praise them enough.”

The Middlesbrough College group represents all levels of learning – including Level 3, Access courses and foundation degree courses – and all are working towards careers in healthcare.

Rachel Page hopes to be a midwife and is studying on a foundation degree course at the College, through its partnership with The Open University.

The 44-year-old has been working on the hospital’s Maternity Ward, offering company and support to expectant mums.

She said: “When the pandemic hit, I knew I had to use my skills to help, and being part of the vaccine rollout effort has been a great experience. I’m so pleased to have played a part.

“Being on the Maternity Ward is also really useful for me as I’m finding out more about being a midwife.”

Michelle Fleming, 35, has recently secured an apprenticeship with the Ambulance Service, she said: “Helping out with the vaccination programme was quite daunting at first but it was hugely rewarding and I met some lovely people.

“It was a fantastic opportunity to gain hands on experience and with University interviews coming up it shows we’ve got some knowledge of inside the hospital. It’s been great to be involved in.”

Zoe Lewis, principal and chief executive at Middlesbrough College, added: “Our students never fail to impress with their can-do attitude and willingness to help others.

“The volunteers are doing all of us proud and I know they’re putting into practice the specialist skills they’ve learned from their tutors who’ve worked in hospitals.

“This group just goes to show that we’re a caring college that is at the heart of the community. The last 12 months might have been unsettling for many but our students have shown fantastic resilience.”

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