For 60 years until a few weeks ago, Melwood was the iconic training ground for Liverpool FC players – now it is to play a role in the COVID-19 vaccination programme. Tony McDonough reports
Just a few weeks ago the Melwood training ground in West Derby was home for Liverpool FC’s world class superstars – now it will help with the delivery of a world class COVID-19 vaccine.
Melwood was the clubs’s iconic training ground for 60 years and legendary managers such as Bill Shankly and Bob Paisley and players including Ron Yeats, Kevin Keegan, Kenny Dalglish and Steven Gerrard all passed through its gates.
However, in November Liverpool FC relocated to a new £50m training complex in Kirkby and the Melwood site was taken over by Merseyside affordable housing provider Torus. It will be building new homes there but first it will play a role in the fight against the pandemic.
Torus is partnering with local GP practices to support the COVID-19 vaccination roll out. It was approached by Innovative General Practice Collaboration (iGPC), a network covering six Liverpool wards, who were looking for a location large enough to host an influx of patients arriving at local vaccination clinics.
In line with advice from the Joint Committee for Vaccinations and Immunisations (JVCI) vaccines will be offered, by invitation, to care home residents and staff, the over 80s and health and social care workers who operate in the local area, initially.
Torus chief executive, Steve Coffey, said: “We are proud to be able to support this critical initiative to help protect the people of West Derby and agreed to release Melwood as a car parking venue without hesitation.
“As a group, our sole focus is on growing stronger communities, be it through direct support, providing access to genuinely affordable homes or partnering with other agencies to improve the health and wellbeing of entire communities.
“Our involvement in the vaccination roll out, though modest, really cements our intent to be a positive part of life in West Derby.”
The Melwood site, adjacent to West Derby Medical Centre, will provide parking for up to 40 cars and it’s hoped that this will help manage traffic levels and ease the pressure on local infrastructure as residents get their vaccination.
Dr Naomi Rankin, clinical director of iGPC, added: “Torus have kindly offered us use of their carparks and staff to support us in vaccinating over 1,000 patients in two days. We hope this makes the process easier for both our patients and the local residents.”
Car parking facilities at Melwood will be available from 7am on Thursday, January 14, and Friday January 15. On-site security and marshalling staff will be in place to ensure that social distancing is adhered to and that anyone who chooses to make use of the car park will be safe and their vehicle protected at all times.