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Eurohearts: A Volunteer’s Perspective

November 23, 2012

Having never been to a Eurohearts conference before I didn’t know what to expect.

I’m on the international committee for The Somerville Foundation and as part of my voluntary role; I spend a lot of time communicating with various organisations across Europe. It’s been great developing these relationships but there is only so much you can learn about an organisation and those who represent it through e-mail. It was good meeting and talking to the people I had been in touch with and talking to them about what they’ve worked on, what they do and how they promote the services their respected organisations offer.

The week offered a variety of lectures and workshops spanning a broad range of subjects, which included different forms of CHD, transition and pregnancy. . I enjoyed the lectures and found them interesting. I found learning about how the shape and formation of a CHD heart can differ from a “normal” one very interesting. I was glad to hear about how my form of heart disease can affect other organs. I’d heard this before but never really understood why. It was good to find out more information, and over and above all, I was happy to hear how relatively common my form of CHD can be – it made me realise I wasn’t the only one living with this form of CHD.

I attended workshops on transitions and communication. The communication one was given by Nurse Charlotte E. Anderson. I got know about the way the Danish Heart Federation works and took part in a few exercises. One the services is similar to one at The Somerville Foundation that is simply to listen to people. All too often people feel they have no one to talk to so it was good to know that The Somerville Foundation is not the only organisation to do this.

I had a very lengthy discussion with cardiologist Dr. Kirsten Boisen from Denmark, who gave the best transition workshop I’ve ever attended. Dr.Boisen’s workshop was very clear and the exercises were a great way for attendees to interact with each other. She spoke with humour and knowledge. I learned about the clinics that she runs and how treatment is administered. The main thing that impressed me however was her attitude. She seemed very dedicated and in tune with the services that the Danish healthcare provide. It was also nice that she stayed to talk to the delegates and to spend time looking at the posters that each organisation had designed and displayed.

This was also a chance to represent The Somerville Foundation and talk to other GUCH’s about the how the charity has helped me and the services I have benefited from. It was great to talk other people who have benefited from their respected organisations, and to learn from what they do and how they do it.

Our Danish hosts were fantastic – friendly, understanding and very attentive to everyone’s needs. The day schedules were organised really well and in the evenings there was always a fun social event to get involved with and time to get to know other delegates.

The Eurohearts conference was not just about the lectures, workshops and activities. There was also a strong social aspect to the week. GUCH’s from across Europe had the chance to meet, share stories and experiences, and learn from one another. It was a great week and I’m really glad I got to go.
Peter Atwal.

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