'Joy in helping others’: London’s Neasden Temple delivers 80,000 vaccinations to locals

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More than 80,000 jabs to date have been administered at Neasden Temple in north-west London. (BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha, UK)
More than 80,000 jabs to date have been administered at Neasden Temple in north-west London. (BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha, UK)

A Hindu temple in London has administered tens of thousands of vaccines to people living in the local area.

BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, also known as Neasden Temple, in Brent opened a vaccination centre in its grounds in February.

With the capacity to carry out 1,200 shots a day, it has administered more than 80,000 jabs to date.

Neepa Patel, a spokesperson for the temple, said the Hindu faith was at the heart of their desire to help others.

"His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj, who is the inspirer of Neasden Temple, said that in the joy of others lies our own," Patel told Yahoo News UK.

"This is something we're taught as children. So, at the beginning of the pandemic hundreds of our volunteers began sending out food parcels, providing health care messages and supporting frontline workers."

The temple has the capacity to carry out 1,200 shots each day. (BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha, UK)
The temple has the capacity to carry out 1,200 shots each day. (BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha, UK)

Initially, there were concerns about high levels of vaccine hesitancy amongst people from some ethnic minority groups.

The ONS said in its ‘Coronavirus and hesitancy’ report in January that lower vaccination rates among people from ethnic minority groups were consistent with the higher vaccination hesitancy.

In July, however, ONS data shows that the level of positive vaccine sentiment amongst adults of Asian ethnicity is 94%, compared to 96% of adults white adults. It does remain low in other groups, such as 79% of Black adults.

Read more: Boris Johnson wants to avoid vaccine passports 'if we possibly can'

Patel said: "We're very fortunate that we have a lot of volunteers who speak different languages so this has enabled slightly hesitant patients to come along. Our health care messaging is done in Gujarati and Hindi as well as English which has really helped the elderly in the community."

She added: "Public Health England recognised very early on that faith sites were the direction to take in making patients comfortable enough to go ahead and have the vaccine. Our temple has a long standing very collaborative relationship with the NHS so we were more than happy to provide the premises across the road."

Neasden temple opened in 1995 and was the first traditional Hindu temple, known as a mandir, in Europe.

It belongs to BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha, a Hindu denomination and volunteer organisation that is headed in Ahmedabad, India.

Sadiq Khan said he was 'truly humbled and inspired by the work of Neasden Temple'. (BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha, UK)
Sadiq Khan said he was 'truly humbled and inspired by the work of Neasden Temple'. (BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha, UK)

Alongside giving out vaccines, the temple has raised more than £720,000 in COVID relief for India since launching an emergency appeal in April.

The money was used to buy ventilators and other emergency medical equipment after hospitals across India ran out of oxygen during the country’s devastating second wave.

Patel said: "A lot of us have very close family ties in India, not just devotees of this Temple but British Hindus. So, when the news of how bad the situation in India was becoming, our current guru His Holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj urged everybody to step up."

In May, some £600,000 was raised in just two days during the temple's Cycle to Save Lives fundraiser, during which volunteers used static bikes to relay for 48 hours covering 20,127 kilometres, the distance from London to Delhi.

Read more: Vaccine boosters not needed for general population, WHO says

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said: "Despite the unprecedented hardship our city has experienced over the past 18 months, the pandemic has seen the very best of London shine through.

"I have been truly humbled and inspired by the work of Neasden Temple, both in fundraising to support COVID-19 relief in India and in their heroic drive to vaccinate over 80,000 local residents in Brent.

"They have been a fantastic example of how our communities have stood together to help one another in these toughest of times.”

The temple remains closed to the public.


You can find out more about Neasden Temple’s fundraisers here.


Watch: Chief medical officers recommend COVID jab for children aged 12 to 15

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