August 18th, 2021.

Havens Community Cars has called on Sussex NHS to take positive and swift action to site a vaccination centre in the Havens area before the start of next month's covid booster injection programme.

Paula Woolven, the Chair of Trustees for Havens Community Cars, explained: "With over 60,000 people living on the coastal stretch between Seaford and Saltdean, it is incredible that the nearest vaccination sites residents are being sent to is still Brighton or Eastbourne.

"Since January, our small charity volunteers have undertaken over 300 journeys for potentially life-saving injections. Our services are for people unable to use public transport, and these have included people over 100 years old, people with mobility problems, or those who were simply unable to afford the private fares of up to £60. Many local taxi companies kindly reduced their prices or charged a flat fare, but it was still beyond the means of some residents.

"Following months of contacting the NHS about the pressure the additional injection journeys were placing on the charity, the authority agreed to pay for the mileage of the second tranche of vaccinations from April 2021.

"Unfortunately, many of the wonderful volunteers who stepped forward in January to help hundreds of people with vaccination and other social, living and medical appointments, did so because they were on furlough. Now, over half of them have returned to work, limiting our available volunteer numbers, which is why it is so vital that NHS Sussex site a vaccination centre in the Havens area before the booster programme starts in September.

“It is hard to fathom why Seaford, Newhaven and Peacehaven have been overlooked during the vaccination rollout. The NHS has done a fantastic job across the country, but we’ve been poorly served locally,” says Cllr James MacCleary, who represents Newhaven.

“I called publicly for a local vaccination centre for our coastal communities back in January and made it clear that the District Council was ready to make its buildings, like the Downs Leisure Centre in Seaford, available if needed. We know that vaccination rates in some local areas have not been as high as we would like, and we should be making it as convenient as possible for people to get their jabs.”

Pictured above: Sarah Lowton, Havens Community Cars Volunteer Driver.

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