Honour for the woman who led Covid volunteers

MBE award recipient Nikki Harrison was just about to go into a work meeting when she took the call telling her the news.

(Picture by Sophie Rabey, 29064923)
(Picture by Sophie Rabey, 29064923)

‘I couldn’t tell you what happened in that meeting,’ she said, owing to her head being in a whirl following her conversation with Lt-Governor Vice Admiral Sir Ian Corder.

‘He asked if I was willing to accept an MBE from the Queen,’ said Mrs Harrison.

After saying ‘yes’, she said she could not remember much more of the conversation.

Mrs Harrison’s award reflected her services to the community during the Covid-19 pandemic.

She paid tribute to all those who had worked with her. ‘I feel really awkward getting this award, because it wasn’t just me doing all the work,’ she said.

Her day job is chief executive officer for St John Ambulance, the voluntary side of the organisation, and she and her team acted as support co-ordinators during lockdown.

Working with the Association of Guernsey Charities, Mrs Harrison helped set up Volunteer Guernsey, a central pool for people to join and to then be directed to assist whichever individual or charitable group was in need.

She said the volunteers were lucky to be based at the Ambulance Station during lockdown, and as well as helping other people volunteers were also pressed into service deep cleaning the vehicles after a Covid-19 patient, even a suspected one, had been carried.

A grocery delivery service was also set up and people were also able to get their prescription medicines delivered by the volunteers.

For people who were alone a caring caller scheme was established, whereby volunteers would make contact and provide someone to talk to.

‘We worked quite closely with the Guernsey Isolation Support Group,’ she said.

Another project in which Mrs Harrison and the volunteers got involved was the seaweed hand sanitiser produced by the local Wheadon’s Gin distillery, filling, labelling and delivering some 8,000 dispensers of the liquid around the island.

The Volunteer Guernsey group continues to operate as a central point of contact for those in need of volunteers and Mrs Harrison said one of the useful elements of the group is that people who join it can find themselves helping more than one charity.

The Calling Carer scheme is also still going: ‘There seems to be a need for this even without Covid,’ she said.

‘It made us realise how many people there are out there who don’t have people to call on and I think that’s what kept people going through all this.’

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