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Why I love volunteeing at the Chelmsford SOS bus

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Ben Morris is a third year Paramedic student, he is a Faculty Rep, Society Committee Member and a community volunteer with ARU Students' Union Volunteer Centre.

Let’s be honest, as students we all work very hard during the week – attending lectures & workshops, revising for exams and completing assignments, so it is only fair we get to treat ourselves occasionally…but what happens when it goes wrong? We’ve all seen it when someone is too drunk to get home, hurts themselves on a night out, or needs someone to confide in after an incident…

Each Saturday night (and Friday night at peak times in the year) the Chelmsford SOS bus, based on Chelmsford High Street, is staffed by a group of dedicated volunteers and a highly skilled healthcare professional to support those who access the night-time economy in Chelmsford. The project is run by charity Open Road, with support from experienced medical company Remote Medic UK; the aim of the project is to provide a safe place for people on a night out to recover – having consumed too much alcohol, been victims of crime or to seek medical aid.

I have been volunteering on the SOS bus since May 2017 and have thoroughly enjoyed the time I have to give. Shifts on the bus start at 10pm and last until 4am. The night begins by getting the bus ready – stocking the medical room, placing out water and logging onto our communication system. From this point onwards anything can happen, the six-hour shift can present with a huge variety of calls and patients - some who may have simply enjoyed their night a little too much and need a drink of water, some quiet time napping and assistance getting home, to some who need critical medical help. Chelmsford SOS bus is a safe place where people can seek support, assessments and advice following minor injuries, or management of patients following serious assaults or severe medical conditions. We work closely with Street Pastors, door staff, local ambulance service and police to ensure everyone has an enjoyable night and gets home safely.

People volunteer for a diversity range of reasons – it might be they are retired and want to give back to a community they’ve been living in for all their life; maybe they have children who are ‘student age’ who are out partying themselves and want to be there to help if anything were to happen to them; or it may be, like me, you’re a medically trained student who wants to use their training to help others in their local community; or perhaps you just want something different to put on your CV. Whatever an individual’s reason for volunteering the team always has a laugh and having lots of people with different life experiences makes for a great night.

Open Road & Remote Medic UK offer teaching and training to the volunteers each week to make sure you are equipped to deliver high quality care.

The Chelmsford SOS project is always looking for more volunteers, if you have one Saturday night a month free and would like to volunteer or organise an observation shift to get a flavour for what Open Road can do:

Visit http://openroad.org.uk/what_we_do/sos_buses/  or come and visit us on one of your Saturday nights out!

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