Usually filled with gig-goers, conference and exhibition attendees and banqueting guests, P&J Live has been attracting a very different crowd over the past few weeks.
Since February 1, the event venue in Aberdeen has been operating as a mass Covid vaccination centre, immunising up to 20,000 people per week.
And it is ensuring the utmost safety of everyone that passes through its doors with VenueShield, a global health and safety initiative launched by P&J Live owners, ASM Global.
The mass immunisation centre has given staff and visitors great pleasure to see the building full of life again, after months of closure and uncertainty.
With most of the staff at P&J Live having been furloughed since April last year, many have now taken on roles in aiding the newly established vaccination process, giving them a sense of purpose once more.
We spoke to three furloughed employees who have been acting as the face of P&J Live since the start of February, welcoming people into the building, advising those waiting to be vaccinated and ensuring everyone practises social distancing.
Normunds Ziedins, Operating Supervisor
Operation supervisor, Normunds Ziedins, pictured above, took a holiday at the end of February 2020, before receiving a phone call informing him of his newly furloughed position.
“At the start it was really good. My first thought was I would get to spend more time with my kids,” he said. “As time went on, though, I did start to worry; it was like sitting on pins and needles.”
Normunds was used to being in contact with the public in his previous role, but not on the same scale. “I haven’t done anything like this before, so I am learning new skills.
“I’m now communicating with the public all day, most days.
“A lot of the people coming to be vaccinated won’t have been out of the house for months, so they just love to chat!”
As he has entered this new environment, Normunds has been working closely with staff whom, previously, he would rarely have spoken to.
“There is a real mix of us – office, front of house and production staff are all working together now and I think it is really good for team building.
“It feels like, together, we will eventually get through these hard times; it’s quite amazing.”
Cesar Valenzuela, Chef
Cesar Valenzuela had worked as a chef for the company for eight years when he was furloughed in 2020. Now, 10 months later, he is very much enjoying getting up in the mornings and heading straight to P&J Live again.
He said: “It’s good to be back at the venue, seeing it filled with people again, and interacting with those people.
“Being part of such a huge vaccination process is weird, it’s something I never thought I’d see or experience, but it’s good to know that I am making a difference.
“It’s going to be a part of history.”
Cesar’s new role involves guiding people through the building and making sure the process runs as smoothly as possible. He is no stranger to dealing with the public; as a chef, he would cater for events at P&J Live seating anywhere between 100 and 15,000 guests.
“This job is very different, but I’m working with a few of my old colleagues again, which is great.”
Megan Sellar, Business Development Manager
Megan Sellar was business development manager at P&J Live for nearly a year, managing the corporate side of the venue, before she was furloughed in April 2020.
“My previous role was obviously more office based; I spent most of my time in client meetings, managing accounts and creating proposals for prospect events.
“This job involves being on your feet for most of the day and being a point of contact for the general public.
“What I’ve enjoyed most about the new role, however, is getting to spend more time with staff from the operational side of the business who I wouldn’t see so much in the office.”
P&J Live is not only a large scale building, but is also extremely accessible for people of all ages and abilities. Megan explained: “We have lifts and escalators in and around the venue, as well as disabled toilets and changing facilities.
“It really is the ideal site for a vaccination centre and I am so thankful that the venue was chosen; it feels good to play a part – however small – it getting the country back to some sense of normality.”
To find out more about P&J Live’s VenueShield initiative, visit the P&J website.