MANY homeless people and rough sleepers attended the YMCA to receive the first dose of the coronavirus vaccine.

The HealthBus Trust worked with the South Coast Medical Group to invite more than 200 people to the YMCA to ensure those who otherwise wouldn’t receive the vaccine had a chance to.

Dr Maggie Kirk, clinical director for the HealthBus and GP at the South Coast Medical Group, said: “We’ve set up here because it’s a venue that’s familiar to a lot of people who have been homeless or who are homeless at the moment.

“People are coming in here to access the vaccination programme, whereas they would probably struggle to access it at the other named venues around the city.

“We’ve had over 200 who have booked and consented and wanted the vaccination.

“We’ve had quite a few actually register with our GP surgery today in order to access the vaccination.

“Some of the people who have booked have not come here for whatever reason and some have realised that this is on offer and have become patients of the South Coast Medical Group in order to access the vaccination.

“Up to now (lunchtime) we’ve had about 70 come through the doors.”

Dr Kirk said at least 25 people have volunteered to help the vaccinations, as well as five people from the Navy and other pharmacists and doctors.

“This is an essential part of us seeing that Covid doesn’t become a disease of the deprived,” she continued.

“This is a means of us bringing essential services to people at the point of need and this is what the HealthBus Trust has been set up to do.”

Gareth Sherwood, CEO of the YMCA in Bournemouth, said: “We’ve provided a facility today and some of the volunteers.

“The staff I have here at the YMCA are familiar with the group we’re providing vaccines for and that takes a particular type of person.

“One of the first things to go when somebody ends up on the street is trust, development of trust takes time when you’ve lost trust.

“Somebody today within our YMCA was nervous about having the vaccine, the second she saw Maggie she was willing to go for the vaccine, because that relationship is there, the trust is there, people are willing to get the help.”

He added: “I love the work we do. To help people on the step in the right direction to health, I couldn’t be more proud.”