Priti Patel visits Neasden Temple’s ‘heroic’ new Covid vaccine hub

Priti Patel visits Neasden Temple’s ‘heroic’ new Covid vaccine hub

UK Home Secretary Priti Patel carved some time out of her busy ministerial schedule this week to visit a new vaccination centre set up by the BAPS Swaminarayan Mandir, popularly known as Neasden Temple in London.

The minister, who has been spearheading a drive to raise awareness among British Indians around the safety and efficacy of the Covid-19 vaccines being administered by the National Health Service (NHS), declared the efforts of one of UK’s largest temples in this area as particularly “heroic”.

She said: “I’ve met everybody from healthcare professionals to representatives of the NHS and the army as well as members of the public who have come to the centre to be vaccinated today. And I just wanted to thank you all, and in particular the volunteers, who have made this national effort possible.

“It is a heroic effort that is saving lives. It will save your life when you have the vaccine and it will save the lives of other people, too.”

Inspired and energised

The temple has opened the centre on its premises at the Swaminarayan School on Brentfield Road, opposite the Mandir in north-west London. The new centre began administering vaccinations on February 2, delivered by K&W Healthcare – a GP-led organisation supporting GP practises and services in Brent.

The Mandir says it has provided volunteering services to prepare the facility, with its premises offered free of charge. The centre will deliver up to 1,200 jabs a day to priority groups in Brent, contributing to the UK’s goal of vaccinating the top four priority groups by February 15.

Dr Mayank Shah, a practising GP and a Trustee at the Mandir, said: “His Holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj, the spiritual head of the temple, has inspired and energised us to support the nation’s fight against the Covid-19 pandemic.

“We are delighted to have an opportunity to bolster the vaccination campaign and play our part in protecting the vulnerable as well as slowing the spread of the coronavirus. We look forward to working with K&W Healthcare in vaccinating thousands in the local community.”

Connect and Care

The latest initiative is in addition to the Mandir’s ongoing holistic “Connect & Care” outreach programme to support the vulnerable across local communities throughout the pandemic, including the provision of its car park to perform Covid-19 antigen testing since June 2020. Further to the testing facility, a mobile clinical laboratory to process the Covid test samples has been operating at the Mandir since December 2020.

The Mandir is also providing daily summaries in English and Gujarati of important government guidelines, including debunking myths and dispelling misinformation to encourage uptake of the vaccination across Britain’s ethnic minority communities, especially as recent surveys have indicated some reluctance among these communities towards the jabs.

As part of its efforts during the pandemic, the BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha has mobilised over 1,100 volunteers in more than 61 areas around the UK and in Europe to support the elderly and needy in local communities.

Some of the highlights of its programme include:

  • Public announcements and publications, including summaries of government guidance, to provide important advice on remaining stable and healthy, and support individuals as well as businesses

  • A series of health awareness videos and presentations in English and Gujarati to educate the public on its collective responsibility to help stem the rapid spread of this deadly virus as well as to remain physically and mentally healthy

  • More than 21,000 phone calls to over 12,000 families to provide support and comfort

  • Reaching out regularly to elderly and vulnerable people to collect shopping, drop medication and run essential errands for them

  • More than 51,000 meals prepared and home-delivered to the needy

  • Supporting, to date, 210 hospitals and key workplaces by providing food and supplies as well as letters of appreciation for their heroic staff

  • Supporting charitable organisations by delivering more than 75 tonnes of fresh fruit and vegetables as well as grocery bags to the needy in the local community

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