'FANTASTIC' volunteers working in cold and wet conditions to support Covid-19 vaccination hubs in southern Oxfordshire faced verbal abuse yesterday.

A number of members from the Ray Collins Charity have been directing traffic and marshaling car parking spaces at the Newbury and Church Street practices in Wantage, where healthcare staff have been delivering vaccines for weeks.

However, some of them reported being verbally abused by people at the sites in an 'isolated' incident that took place in the morning.

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Ray Collins, founder of the charity, called the abuse 'unacceptable' and said: "As many of you are aware our amazing volunteers have been aiding the fantastic staff at the Mably Way Health Centre with the Covid-19 vaccine clinics.

"Sadly and unbelievably, a few of our volunteers have been verbally abused whilst directing traffic around to the correct car parking spaces.

"Everyone at both practices and all of our volunteers are working flat out, in wet and freezing cold conditions to quickly and efficiently provide life saving vaccines to the most vulnerable in our community.

"Our volunteers are all giving up their time freely because they care, they care about our community, they care about their families, they care about neighbours, they care about the future and returning to normality."

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Mr Collins added that the vast majority of visitors to the health centre have been 'smiling and really pleased' to see the volunteers.

He also confirmed that, despite the verbal abuse, they will be back to continue working side by side with frontline staff.

Dr Rhodri Davies from Newbury Street practice defended the volunteers in a post on Facebook and added: "I was very sad to hear that one of our Ray Collins volunteers was the victim of verbal aggression whilst she was helping to direct traffic at the Health Centre this morning.

"Our experience in delivering the vaccination programme has been overwhelmingly positive but I do feel that following this morning's incident, I have to remind everybody that verbal aggression to any of the volunteers or indeed any other staff should not and will not be tolerated."

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Dr Davies also praised the volunteers and the charity for 'all their great work'.

A number of shocked residents condemned the 'absolutely disgraceful' and 'totally unnecessay' behaviour.

Many people, who had visited the clinic, also praised the volunteers for their dedication and work.