When Leicester based GP, Nisha Guram first heard about Over The Wall, she immediately applied to become a Clinical Volunteer. The idea of a camp for children with serious illness resonated with Nisha, as a young member of her own family has a health challenge.
“I knew from my personal experience how important it is for children with health challenges to have some form of respite.” explains Nisha. “It’s vital for them to participate in activities and challenges whilst making memories they don’t normally get the opportunity to make. So, playing a role at camp seemed perfect for me.”
As a clinical volunteer, Nisha attended the Midlands Health Challenge camp based in Staffordshire.
“I took annual leave to attend the midlands camp. For me, that was a great investment. It’s wonderful to see people realise they can achieve things they never dreamt of- and that’s not just the campers, but the volunteers too. For example, I’m not a creative person, but camp really brought this out me.”
“Camp is unique in that it puts you in a supportive environment where you learn to appreciate people’s differences. It enables campers and volunteers to really let go of themselves.”
Camp’s impact on life as a GP
“As a GP, I don’t have as much contact with children as you’d expect.” continues Nisha, “Very often children with health challenges see specialist nurses and teams, so having the opportunity to help them evolve and enjoy themselves is great.”
“For most of us, the reason we enter into medicine or nursing, is to make a difference. At camp you do exactly this- but it’s not the general ‘diagnosis’ and ‘treatment’ type of difference- it’s more about the change that comes from the smaller things, the things that have a huge impact on these children’s lives.”
“As a GP, volunteering for OTW sharpens your perspective and renews your level of compassion. When working in the NHS, you can be so busy with patients the demands of your day-to-day job, that it sometimes draws down the empathy that you have, but camp reignites all of that for you.”
Seeing the magic happen
Through a programme of therapeutic recreation, OTW camp has been developed to enable campers to realise the incredible abilities and talents they possess and that they can become the heroes of their own stories.
“Camp definitely has an impact on camper health.” adds Nisha. “It provides a place for them to really talk about openly about their mental health issues and the stigmas and barriers that they face, and it’s so important to get that out.”
“You can see that some children’s lives become defined by their illness. It closes them off from opportunities. Their time at camp offers them encouragement and guidance, and the assurance that they can achieve things, and learn to better manage their illness.”
“OTW camp is an important thing.”