Allaying worries and anxiety as a vaccine provider

Magazine, 23.03.2021

Once a week, Christian Langensiepen swaps his job at ERGO and puts on his German Red Cross uniform. Instead of dealing with emergency and crisis management in the Düsseldorf office, he is rolling up his sleeves at the vaccination centre in Erkrath-Hochdahl.

Christian Langensiepen at the vaccination centre in Erkrath-Hochdahl

Christian Langensiepen (56) has been with ERGO for many years. He started at ITERGO in 2000 and later moved to ERGO. Christian Langensiepen is (virtually) still a novice at the German Red Cross (DRK) and has only been volunteering there for a year. But he has always wanted to be actively involved in social work. Perhaps even as far back as when he finished school and consciously opted for civilian service duties in an aid organisation. “Helping people is in my DNA,” he explains. “Everyone can make a contribution if they want to.”

And help is needed, particularly during the coronavirus crisis. Christian Langensiepen first had to complete his basic training with the German Red Cross, and this was then followed by training as a vaccine helper. The training covered issues such as “hygiene” or “vaccine preparation”, but it also dealt with “soft” topics, such as listening, providing support, and being there for others.

Reaching out to people

Up to 1,648 people can be vaccinated every day in the Mettmann district vaccination centre. We vaccinate twelve hours a day, seven days a week. It is not uncommon for Christian Langensiepen to literally support people who come to the vaccination centre: “We’re now dealing with the old and sometimes frail. Many are struggling with this. It’s very exhausting for them. Then I actively accompany them as they pass through the vaccination centre, occasionally all the way from the tent at the entrance along the corridors to the safe exit of the vaccination centre.”

But Langensiepen also provides help and support to others in a different way: those who arrive with fears or are anxious about the consequences of vaccination. Langensiepen is there for them. “There are a number of people every day with whom our main job is to allay their anxiety and stress. They tend to become calmer when we talk to them and many of their concerns dissipate.”

He has not yet experienced any serious reactions from the vaccinations. He only suffered one day during which he lacked get-up-and-go after his own vaccination. “These are really the normal reactions following a vaccination,” he continues.

He is totally convinced that possible vaccination problems and a disease cannot be offset against each other. “Vaccination cannot be compared to infection with the coronavirus or even death.”

ERGO supports his commitment

It is not just the immediate colleagues in his department who permit Langensiepen to be involved with this work. As his employer, ERGO also supports his commitment within its social service remit, as, after all, this is public voluntary work. Christian Langensiepen: “I am so very grateful for that.” But his biggest thanks comes from the smiles from people on the ground. A smile from people who he was able to help – in the joint fight against the coronavirus.

Helping others also helps to combat ‘home office blues’

One thing is clear to Christian Langensiepen: volunteering can also help to drive away the coronavirus blues. “I know a lot of colleagues who are climbing the walls at home. The coronavirus restrictions are really taking a lot out of them.”

Langensiepen himself is a fan of mobile working, but he is also sure: “Many people are happy when they can leave their own four walls and do something meaningful.” So why not volunteer? Just like Christian Langensiepen.

Text: Willy Lünstroth


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