24 January 2022
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St John Ambulance responds to health emergencies, supports communities, and saves lives. It aims to empower people of all ages by giving them lifesaving skills and the confidence to use them in any situation; as well as creating communities that are healthier, safer, and more resilient.
Already, thousands of St John’s highly skilled volunteers have given more than 1.3 million hours of their time since March 2020, supporting the NHS and responding to Covid. Their roles include delivering millions of flu and Covid jabs as well as caring for patients in hospital emergency departments and in ambulances.
But that’s not all. Volunteers can be seen out on the streets protecting the vulnerable as part of local community initiatives, like helping the homeless and those taken ill or injured on a night out. Such interventions often prevent people going to hospital and allow the health service clinicians to respond to other urgent health needs.
However, this winter, on top of the usual additional health emergencies that the colder months bring, the country is continuing to cope with a pandemic. As Omicron spreads, increasing hospital admissions and affecting staff attendance, the NHS is under significant pressure. The volunteer-led first aid charity, with its clinical expertise, has never been more needed.
By knowing first aid members of the public could help take pressure off the NHS further and if an injury can be treated at home, will be better able to take care of our loved ones. People may be more at risk of slips and falls in the colder weather, or burns while cooking warming meals. Being able to act quickly at any time of year, like responding to cardiac arrests, mean St John can give people the best chance of survival and recovery.
The pandemic has been challenging for many young people and a prolonged period of limited activity, often online only, has reduced their engagement. However, St John has been inspired by the role many of their young people have played in supporting fundraising, logistics and the vaccination programme. St John Ambulance knows that first aid saves lives and that those same skills can help young people at this critical time as we recover from the pandemic together.
Players of People’s Postcode Lottery have enabled the creation of the Young Responders programme - St John’s initiative to help young people from underrepresented backgrounds access, and then pass on, lifesaving training in their own communities. It aims to help thousands of young people develop first aid skills and mental health awareness by the end of 2022.
In 2022 the charity is also celebrating the centenary of their work with young people, marking it with the “Year of Youth”. There will be a series of events from February to November, and the opportunity to engage even more young people in making a difference to the health of their communities.