“A great reward for an amazing team effort”
St John Ambulance – a valued member of the Charity Learning Consortium – has won a prestigious award for its training programme to upskill thousands of volunteers. The volunteers have been caring for patients – alongside NHS professionals – in hospitals, on ambulances and in communities during the pandemic.
The health and first aid charity was presented with a silver in the People Development Programme category of the Learning Awards, which recognise innovation and achievement in training.
At a virtual ceremony, UK-based host, the Learning and Performance Institute, said the winners had risen to the top of the largest number of entries ever received in the awards’ 25-year history.
St John’s COVID-19 Care training programme was designed in March 2020 to train volunteers more accustomed to giving first aid at football matches and community events. This was to enable volunteers to work safely in the pandemic environment, including going in to support NHS teams in hospital emergency departments for the first time.
The specialist training was developed in-house in less than a week, as the coronavirus pandemic took hold. The first group of volunteers was sent into a hospital within a fortnight.
The programme blended face to face training with online learning – delivered via the learning management system provided by the Charity Learning Consortium. This cut overall training time down by a third and enabled St John to deliver its biggest ever peacetime deployment of volunteers.
Martin Baker, founder and CEO of the Charity Learning Consortium, said: “I am humbled by the amazing effort of St John staff and volunteers, and honored that the Consortium has been able to play a small part in helping St John face the extraordinary circumstances created by the global pandemic.”
To date, 5,000 volunteers have received training, using their skills to provide more than 300,000 hours of patient-facing care to support the NHS during COVID-19.
Their roles include taking patient observations in hospital emergency departments, responding to 999 calls as ambulance crew, and working with community partners to support services such as blood donation and caring for the homeless.
Carl Makins, St John Ambulance’s Head of Training, Community Operations, said he was delighted with the award: “This is a great reward for an amazing team effort. Training so many volunteers in such a short timeframe was a huge challenge, but we knew St John volunteers could really make a difference on the frontline if we could get them there.
“A huge thank you and well done to everyone involved, especially the thousands of volunteers who stepped forward without hesitation to give frontline care in such challenging circumstances.”
Carl added that the COVID Care training had laid the groundwork for an even bigger operation currently underway at the charity, assisting with the NHS vaccination programme.
Since early January, St John has trained more than 10,000 volunteers in COVID-19 vaccination roles. The charity’s vaccination volunteers have been deployed to more then 50 centres across the country and have already given more than 30,000 hours of their time.
About St John Ambulance
St John Ambulance responds to health emergencies, supports communities, and saves lives.
Compassionate care isn’t just part of our heritage, it’s in our hearts. Our clinical expertise and the skills of St John people make us unique; a volunteer-led health and first aid charity, with national presence, reach and scale.
From our vibrant youth programmes to our world-class training, we empower people of all ages with lifesaving skills and the confidence to use them, every day.
St John volunteers treat and transport thousands of patients each year, and in times of crisis we are England’s national health reserve.
As a charity with a long history of serving humanity, we are proud of our past and excited about creating a healthier, safer, more resilient future.
St John Ambulance has relieved people from illness, injury, distress and suffering for over 140 years and, with the public’s support, will do so for decades to come.
We are your St John Ambulance