Posted on: 08 Aug 2022
This summer, we funded a special trip to Center Parcs for young people with renal conditions and receiving dialysis treatments, which aimed to give them some time away from the hospital environment after an intense two-year period during the height of the pandemic.
The weekend was organised and led by the NUH Youth Service, who work with young patients aged 11 to 19, being treated for a whole range of conditions at Nottingham Hospitals.
In her blog, Renal Youth Development Worker, Clare Alderson, tells us why the residential trip is so important for the young people she supports...
The trip to Center Parcs was filled with lots of fun activities and tasks that kept the young people very busy across the weekend, such as swimming, cycling, tree-trekking and zip-lining, kayaking and bowling to name just a few! Some young people took part in a cooking challenge with delicious results and we had some surprise karaoke performances across the weekend too!
As well as youth workers, the group also comprised of dialysis specialist nurses and were able to generate some powerful conversations around transplantation, dialysis and what it’s like to be a young person living with a chronic condition like kidney disease.
Aims of the trip included helping the young people to gain more independence in managing aspects of their healthcare, develop life skills for the future and build resilience (cooking, time management, medication management, communication etc) for future stages in their renal healthcare journey and eventual transition to adult health services.
When we asked the young people about their biggest achievements over the weekend, one participant said: “First time away where I need to manage my own care and I can relate more to my new friends.” Another said: “Helped my mental health and was a way to put everything else to one side for a weekend.”
When asked about any advice these young people would give to any future patients considering going away with the NUH Youth Service, they said, “Don’t worry about being lonely, you’ll make lots of friends along the way,” and, “There will be a few people feeling exactly the same as you are and who knows maybe you’ll have stuff in common”.
It’s always a huge privilege as youth workers, to get to a stage with young people where they feel comfortable to share their experiences and feelings with you as you try to understand what they might be going through.
What is even more special though, is when you get to witness young people build connections and share those things with each other, and residential trips are the perfect environments for these friendships grow.
We try our best to comprehend what it is like to live with a long-term health condition, but it has been amazing to watch these young people really relate to each other and support each other across the weekend and discuss things about their health that only they have to experience.
We had so much fun completing some (at times) challenging activities, eaten some fantastic food and belly-laughed the entire time! What was so nice to see was that by the end of the trip, many of the young people had swapped contact details and were making plans to see each again. For young people who spend so much time in the hospital and away from the home environments and peers, this was so important.
We’re so grateful to Nottingham Hospitals Charity and to all those who fundraise and donate, because without them, all of these priceless experiences and friendships created just would not be possible.