We are delighted to announce that the Shah Jahan Mosque (SJM) is now an official Covid vaccination centre, supporting the ongoing efforts of staff and volunteers from the NHS.

With the Prime Minister having recently laid out a national roadmap to exit lockdown, the race is on to get as many people as vaccinated as quickly as possible as we bid for normality to return.

So, we did not think twice when the opportunity arose to offer our facilities to the NHS as a vaccination centre, with over 50 local residents receiving their first dose on site last weekend.

Mohsin Mughal, chairman of the SJM committee, was quick to thank the incredible efforts of mosque volunteers who have been instrumental in not only making the facility ‘Covid compliant’, but also offering their services to ensure the viability of the vaccination centre.

“Mosques up and down the country play an instrumental role in the communities they are situated, and we are no different. This is a national emergency which requires everyone to play their part,” he said.

“We know that for many members of our congregation and community, getting to one of the other centres in operation is difficult for so many reasons, not least accessibility. The mosque is an environment they know, feel comfortable in and can get to easily so it really is a big deal.”

The initial arrangement with local NHS service providers will see the mosque play host to vaccinations for three consecutive Sundays beginning from the end of February, with the option to extend the offer should uptake be sufficient.

Last week saw around 15 vaccinations take place per hour over the course of a four-hour slot. Vaccinations are being delivered by trained medical professions, with SJM volunteers ensuring social distancing is being adhered to in waiting areas, and managing check-in and check-out of those coming to site.

The opening of the centre comes after the committee, along with a huge number of volunteers, quickly turned Britain’s oldest mosque into a fully compliant facility, with measures including one-way systems and staggered congregations for major prayer gatherings.

“Without the support of the men and women of Woking, we cannot function. It really is as simple as that,” continued Mohsin.

“It’s been an incredibly tough year for everyone but we wanted to make sure we remained accessible, notwithstanding restrictions, and we have been.

“In fact, we are looking forward to this week welcoming our congregation back for Jummah prayers and that marks another milestone to getting out of lockdown.”