11 October 2019
Are you a registered doctor, nurse, or paramedic? If so you could be making a massive difference to young people starting to rebuild their confidence after cancer by helping out on an Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust trip.
No trip can take place without medics ensuring all the young people's needs are cared for. You would be an integral part of the crew, keeping everyone safe.
The role involves overseeing medication, keeping an eye out for warning signs, and assisting with First Aid and rare medical instances. Training days take place in advance of the season. This is an opportunity to meet other medics who have supported the Trust, ask questions, and go over everything way before trips begin.
Kirstie Paterson originally sailed with the Trust as a young person, before going on to become a graduate volunteer. Now a nurse at the Royal Hospital for Sick Children in Edinburgh, she sails on trips as a medic.
"A volunteer medic’s role isn’t just about reminding the young people to take any medicines they might have or responding to any sudden illness during a Trust trip.
"It’s about getting involved completely with all of the activities that a Trust trip entails, whether it’s helping to prepare the meals on board, making cups of tea, playing a game of Uno, helping your crew to sail the boat or getting involved in one of the Trust’s famous water fights.
"Volunteer medics receive an in-depth briefing about any health needs or medicines the young people may take prior to their arrival. All of this information can sometimes feel a bit overwhelming, but once you meet them, it almost goes to the back of your mind as you begin to focus on having fun and getting to know everyone.
"You are always supported by your skippers and the Trust team on shore, and you will always have another medic on a trip. Whether it's a nurse, doctor or paramedic, there will always be someone else on board to discuss your concerns with and help support your decision-making."
Having been involved with the Trust since 2012, Kirstie finds it particularly rewarding to see the difference in the young people who have returned to sail with the Trust year after year - and the difference a four-day trip can make to a person’s confidence.
"When I think of the trips, I just think of all the fun I have. Learning to sail together, activities on and off shore, crabbing, making meals together on the boat. Everyone gets the same opportunities on Trust trips."
Annie Winfield-Shearer volunteered as a medic a whopping eight times this summer alone (and she's not done yet!).
Talking about the trips, she said: "Young people can miss so much while on treatment. Their friends might have all got into skateboarding or whatever in that time, but they are left behind.
"On Trust trips they can learn new skills, such as sailing, surfing, climbing, canoeing, in safe environments where no one’s judging them and do things they wouldn’t otherwise do. Skills aren’t just learned in structured ways, they are learned from peers too."
Consultant paediatric and adolescent oncologist doctor Dave Hobin, a familiar face to many on trips and a Trustee, added: "Providing opportunities to rebuild confidence gives young people the greatest chance to achieve their goals, while mixing with others who have had similar experiences is key.
"They start re-establishing peer relationships and benefit from mutual support Realising they can participate in activities is often the start of their wider recovery."
Medic application forms can be found here.