What a day today has been. Today I have been at a full day voluntary day as part of the ILM3 course. We were visited by Paul Marriott, CEO of St Cuthbert’s Hospice in Durham, a fantastic charity which offers care and support to those suffering from a terminal illness. Paul started off by giving us a brief introduction to the work of the charity. This in itself was really insightful and inspiring, to hear about the work people do to at the hospice, after all, as Paul said, ‘it’s not about adding days to the life it’s about adding life to the days’.
With this thought provoking statement in mind we were all feeling motivated to take on the challenge that Paul had lined up for us. The hospice is planning to hold a conference to discuss palliative care in September, aimed at GPs, care home workers and carers looking after family members. Paul had talked about how difficult it often was to reach all these different groups and to get them to take time out of their busy schedule to attend. He left us with a basic programme and asked if we could come up with a flyer and ideas about how to market and communicate this event to the target audience. With only 4 hours to complete our work it felt like we had a lot of work to do!
After an initial group session to discuss our ideas, we came to the conclusion that it would be best to work in 2 groups, one focused on attracting the professional carers, such as GPs and specialists, and the other for carers and those looking after loved ones. We made this decision as we felt the needs and motivations of these two groups were very distinct at that one approach would not be enough to target both.
We therefore split into two groups based on the results of an earlier Belbin test (used to calculate what kind of team member we were)- ensuring a mix of the different types of team member in each team. One group worked on a flyer and marketing strategy to target the professionals, and the other for the individual and home carers. It was interesting when in these groups to see if people were indeed living up to the results of the Belbin test- it did prove to be surprisingly accurate as some naturally lead the way, others came up with ideas and others ensured that everyone’s opinion was heard!
We managed to get an impressive amount of work done considering the time restraints, and when we re-joined later in the day each team had managed to produce a flyer suited to their target audience. In my group (the carers group) we had discussed the need to ensure carers and individuals did not feel intimidated by the event. We focussed on the support element of the event, avoiding words like ‘conference’ in order to sound welcoming and all inclusive. We were happy with the finished product as it gave enough information without overwhelming recipients.
As a whole group we also made some recommendations for Paul based on his current plan, such as more coffee (and biscuit!) breaks to encourage networking and discussion amongst attendees. We also talked about how we would make people aware that this course was happening, using email as well as ‘hard copies’ of the flyers in order to access those people without internet access. Paul was incredibly grateful and pleased with the work we had done. He calculated that, through the money the charity saved by not having to pay someone to produce the materials, and the extra attendees he believed the conference would attract, the work we did was the equivalent of making a donation of £3100 to the charity.
We finished the day feeling exhausted (all that thinking is hard work!) but pleased with the work we had done and hopefully the difference we will make to the conference in September. Not only was this a great way to refresh and develop team work skills but it also reminded me of the importance of giving your time to help others. Whether this be in something structured, like voluntary work, or just by looking out for those around you a daily basis. Furthermore, appreciating the little things in life and not worrying about the little things is a lesson I’m sure most of us can learn from.