Of the current crop of news items about A&E, these words, from Professor Keith Willett of NHS England, have stayed with me:
“We often see a sharp spike in emergency admissions at this time of year.”
“We know that the majority of these are elderly people who have stored up a health problem at home and who have not sought treatment early, hoping that it will go away.”
Professor Willett urged everyone to, “Think about those people living nearby who might benefit from a visit. If they see people, they are more likely to mention a health problem. They are more likely to seek help early.”
So just passing the time of day with someone might lessen the likelihood of a frantic ambulance trip later.
Staving off a ‘major incident’.
But it’s not just elderly people.
We’ve probably all had periods when we have been ‘storing up’ problems. We don’t want to make a fuss. Or we’re not sure where to turn.
An encouraging smile, which opens up a conversation, can make all the difference.
Which brings me onto an ‘Untold Story’ from the Young People’s Centre in Brighton. The centre is a warm, friendly place. If you’re between 13 and 25, you can drop by, chat, check your emails or have a shower.
Aiysha enjoys the quizzes; Daniel the meals and meeting new people.
For Maris, the centre “changed his life”.
His problems were stacking up. Things might have got much worse, possibly even to A&E pitch, had he not come across the centre.
“There was a lot of depression involved and anxiety and mistrust of people”.
“So coming here for a couple of hours, eight hours, nine hours a week, where I could do my washing, have a shower, talk to new people. It improved my life… It changed my life.”
You can listen to Maris, Aiysha and Daniel in this ‘Untold Story’ recorded and produced by Sigyn Blondal, BA student at the University of Sussex’s School of Media, Film and Music:
These audio interviews are part of a project I supervise at the University of Sussex, ‘Untold Stories’. Students like Sigyn work with small local charities, interviewing their volunteers or the people who use their services.
Through these interviews, the charities get a taste of the media; the students gain practical experience. Both can use these ‘frontline’ interviews to raise their profile.
The Young People’s Centre in Brighton is one of a number of community projects run by the charity Impact Initiatives.
They’ve posted this audio on their website, played it at their AGM and will be able to use it to promote their work more generally. Their CEO is Caroline Ridley:
“The podcast is a really good way to explain the results that people get when they go into the Young People’s Centre”.
“I was at a meeting with someone from a Clinical Commissioning Group. She hadn’t really heard about what we do. She was saying that their main concerns were the blockages at A&E and GP surgeries. This podcast quite clearly gives an example of somebody (Maris) who, because he has gone to the Young People’s Centre, does not need to take medication any more. He’s not going to his doctors so often. It’s probably also kept him out of A&E.”
“And the podcast can say it far better than I can at a meeting. Somebody is actually saying it themselves. It’s just a lot more powerful.”
Frontline stories are an effective way to raise awareness about the work of your organisation.
In a matter of minutes, Maris spoke volumes about the difference the YPC has made to his life. In medical terms, his experience is a good example of how ‘early intervention’ can take the pressure off the individual and A&E.
You can hear about the valuable work of other Sussex charities on the University of Sussex’s website.
If you’d like to explore how the stories of your volunteers or service users can bring to life the value of your organisation, give me a call on 07456 416 475 or contact me .