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'Delighted to host the clinic'

The hall at Westward Ho! Baptist Church in Devon will be a vaccination centre for at least the next three months. Pastor Tim Sutton explains more


Westward Ho!

How did this come about?

On Christmas Eve we received an email from our local pharmacy apologising for the timing of the request, but saying they were under a tight time schedule allocated by NHS England and looking to hire a venue to run a Covid vaccination clinic. Arnold's Pharmacy had applied to help support NHS England by running a Covid vaccination clinic for the area.

Since WHBC was very close to the pharmacy, and the hall was suitable to that kind of thing, they wondered if it was possible to hire our hall. It turns out that someone connected to the pharmacist had been to several children's events held there in the past, and knew it would be ideal. The vaccination centre would run for 12 hours a day, 7 days a week, for at least the next three months.

What did you need to do to prepare?

Discussing it via email the WHBC Leadership Team came to a swift and unanimous agreement that we'd be delighted to host the clinic. One of the many new people God has blessed us with over the past couple of years is a chap called Rod Smith, who has been coordinating Covid security and operations over the past few months. On Boxing Day Rod met together with some of the Leadership Team for a socially distanced short meeting to discuss and formulate an action plan for prepping the building, after which a licensing agreement was swiftly finalised.

Rod, with the help of a number of people, arranged for seats to be relocated, our locking system to be fixed, Wifi to be extended from the main church centre (adjacent), and the building get a professional deep clean before use as a medical facility. Our Community Lunch Programme (we've given something like 4000 or so free meals away to a growing group of local families and individuals since April 2020) also relocated to the main church centre. 

Somewhere in the middle of all that Osman the pharmacist came over with his smartphone to conduct a virtual inspection of the hall, carried out by NHS England - which subsequently approved the site for use as a vaccination centre. We later learned that Arnolds/WHBC Hall was among the first one per cent of all pharmacies in England to have been approved. 

Westward Ho! hall

When did it start?

The pharmacy took over on Monday 11 January and are currently setting up their IT and other equipment. We - Arnolds and WHBC - have asked for volunteers, as many will be needed. The vaccinations should begin, it's hoped, by the end of the week (between 21 to 23 Jan).

Why does Westward Ho! Baptist Church welcome its hall being a vaccination centre?

We feel it's a privilege to serve the community in this way, in the name of Jesus. For us it's about loving our neighbours - letting thousands of our 'neighbours' in this area have the benefit of a clean, warm, accessible, local place to visit for their life-saving vaccination.

Personally, for me as pastor, loving my neighbour also means I take the vaccine to help ensure that I'm not the cause of suffering or worse for others.

How can we pray for the Westward Ho! vaccination centre?

Please pray for a good continued partnership and cooperation between WHBC and Arnold's. Pray for Osman (and his young family), as he heads us quite a monumental project. Pray for the vaccinations to run smoothly and swiftly. And please join WHBC in praying for more than just a physical blessing on each person who walks through our doors.


It's with a whole lot of joy that we can finally announce that Westward Ho! Baptist Church will be hosting the Westward...

Posted by Westward Ho Baptist Church on Saturday, 9 January 2021

Baptist Times, 18/01/2021
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