I’m currently working as a Regional Support Manager for Practice Plan, but my career in dentistry started out as a dental nurse many moons ago! Louise (a friend and trained Dental Therapist) and I worked together as nurses and last year decided to give a little back by taking part in the Dental Volunteer Programme. We wanted to use the skill set we both have to help people less fortunate and help educate people without basic dental knowledge. Essentially, we’ll be working to support the dentists’ and clinical officers’ training, giving oral health advice and acting as sterilisation nurses to ensure the clinics run effectively.
Fundraising hasn’t been easy and for anyone who’s planning on doing it, here are some things I’ve learnt from doing mine:
- Plan early to avoid a last-minute panic
- Run a specific event — this means people get something out of the money they are giving. We held a themed fancy dress night which wouldn’t have gone ahead had it not been for the help and kindness of some great people – we managed to provide some great entertainment including a band, a solo singer, a DJ and a face painter – and amazingly, hosting the whole event didn’t cost us a penny! What’s more we managed to raise a huge £450 just over that weekend!
- Don’t just plan one, plan many fundraising activities; this gives you more opportunities to raise money from different groups of people. Here’s some of the other stuff we did: a cake sale in a friend’s coffee shop, a pub crawl fundraising day and Facebook postings every week or so
- Don’t be disheartened if you don’t make loads from day one – something we noticed was that the money tends to come in last-minute; we raised £1800 in 10 days!
From speaking to those that have already taken part in the programme, the experience is something that neither of us will forget. I imagine it’ll give us a totally different perspective on life and the things we take for granted, especially when we’ll be seeing and treating people who will have been in pain for years and not just hours/days. Ultimately, it’s not just the immediate treating of the people that turn up to the clinics that’s important, it’s the lasting effect that training the clinical officers will have, enabling people to have dental provisions.
Our journey out to Tanzania is fast approaching and I’d just like to say a huge thank you for the very generous donations we have already received from clients, work colleagues and friends.
Many qualified dental professionals choose to join the Dental Volunteer Programme so they can offer their support to Tanzanian communities by passing on their skills to local health care personnel. Read Rebecca Mead’s story here to find out about her experience during her trip to Tanzania last year with the Dental Volunteering Programme, and just how much she gained from her travels!