16 April 2024

‘The work they do at the first aid centre is amazing’

by Michelle Horst

The only one of its kind in the country, the Hornsea First Aid Centre was paid a visit by the BBC’s One Show last Friday.

The centre was established in 2018 after the closure of Hornsea Cottage Hospital’s minor injuries unit left the wider region without suitable access to a minor injury service. Since then, visitors and residents have benefited from the charity’s free service.

The centre, currently run from a portable building in Hornsea’s Tesco car park, is entirely volunteer-led.

Brian Massey, of the Hornsea Cottage Hospital League of Friends, said: “They helped me so much with my fingernail. It’s too far to travel to Beverley’s urgent care.”

While the service cannot diagnose, and will do nothing invasive, the team of volunteers have addressed the health concerns of many of their regular visitors.

“What they do here is amazing,” said June Barton, also of the Hornsea Cottage Hospital League of Friends.

Presenter Kevin Duala, along with director Kirk Barber and cameraman Ibrahim Gedal, spent the day getting to know the many volunteers who work with the charity while putting together a segment for The One Show.

As well as providing first aid, Hornsea First Aid Centre gives many medical professionals chance to continue using their skills in a positive way. The centre also provides the opportunity for those looking to develop work experience and anyone looking to change careers.

The centre’s 28 volunteers provide cover throughout the year, and all have training, with members completing the Community Save a Life Scheme.

Jackie Young, a trustee for the charity and regular volunteer, said: “Sometimes people come to us rather than using the 111 service.

“A minor injury might not be life-threatening, but it can be frightening. Being able to talk to someone face to face before it becomes a problem is very reassuring.”

Anne Padgett, chairman of the charity, said: “With the closure of the hospital, it become so difficult for people to access the care they need. Many of the people in this area cannot drive long distances. The bus services are terrible. And after travelling for hours, they can’t wait in waiting rooms.”

It is this dedication that has brought the efforts of Hornsea First Aid Centre to the BBC One Show’s attention. The show actively seeks to highlight the unsung heroes making a real difference in communities from around the country.

“I love this job,” said director Kirk Barber. “There is always something new.”

Despite gaining national attention, and potentially becoming a best-case model for other areas, after several cold winters the charity is now looking for a new more central venue to become more sustainable, and allow a better access to their services.

“We’d like to be open longer, we want to be able to help more people. Sadly, some don’t even know we’re here,” said Rosie Bullard.

“We’re lucky to have solar panels, but it doesn’t power everything in winter. The little gas fire doesn’t warm the cabin and unfortunately, it’s not very well insulated,” Anne Padgett added: “Some of our volunteers bring hot water bottles rather than let the community down. We’re very proud of how dedicated our team is, but we should not need to rely on hot water bottles.”

Summer brings the charity fresh problems because of the higher demand from beachgoers. Anne said: “In summer we get lots of tourists who don’t want to burden our local NHS service, or don’t know where to turn. Of course, we’re happy to help them, too. We don’t discriminate.

“We can point people in the right direction when they are in pain and at their most vulnerable.”

One patient, who wished to remain anonymous, said of the Hornsea First Aid Centre’s service: “I’d rather come to these lovely people here. It means I don’t have to wait seven hours in A&E.

“I struggle to get an appointment with a doctor. This place has put my mind at rest more than once. It doesn’t matter who I see. If they can’t help me, they make sure I can get to someone who can.”

In the past year, the centre has helped with splinters, grazes, burns, stings, redressing wounds, sprains, and much more.

A passer-by commented: “It’s a gem. No queues. I’m pain free thanks to them. They always have time for me. What’s not to like?”

The feature is expected to air on the BBC One Show in the next week.

Hornsea First Aid Centre is open from 10am to 2pm in winter and 10am to 4pm in summer. It can be contacted by phone on 07565 752762. Alternatively, drop into the cabin at the Tesco car park.