The Mind Matters Initiative (MMI) has started a new programme of ‘Campfire chats’, informal online conversations led by members of the professions on some of the key issues affecting veterinary surgeons, veterinary nurses and other members of the vet-led team under the current circumstances.
The free programme of events kicks off on Wednesday 26 February from 7pm to 8pm with a delve into online veterinary communities and how to beat isolation. The panel comprises Simply Locums founder and podcast host Ben Sweeney, VN Council member and blogger Jane Davidson, and founder of the Vets: Stay, Go, Diversify Facebook community Ebony Escalona. In their conversation they will consider how members of the profession can stay connected in a time of necessary separation and their experiences and challenges in fostering togetherness, celebrating community and beating isolation.
Angharad Belcher is the recently appointed Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) Director of Advancement of the Professions who joined the organisation at the beginning of 2021 and has developed the programme with Mind Matters Manager Lisa Quigley. Angharad commented: “No one in the professions need to be told that the last year or so has been extraordinarily tough, but what has got many of us through is a sense of shared experience and solidarity whether that’s with family, friends, colleagues or the wider community. These campfire chats aim to draw on the importance of connectedness by bringing together members of the veterinary community to share their thoughts, experiences and solutions in an informal and friendly online setting.
“Though we have panels hosting every session, these events are not formal talks or lectures and are very much about audience participation and feedback. We hope many of you can join us to talk about the struggles, challenges and occasional hilarities of veterinary life in the time of coronavirus and, in doing so, improve your own wellbeing.
“All those who sign-up are encouraged to join the proceedings with a cup of hot chocolate and marshmallows to keep up with the camping theme – please feel free to send us selfies of you enjoying these but remember, don’t light campfires indoors!”
Following the initial event on Wednesday 26 February, the next planned campfire chats are:
•Thursday 29 April, 7pm to 8pm - Chronic health conditions and Covid-19: This event is hosted by RCVS Senior Vice-President Niall Connell and Claire Hodgson and will look at the particularly serious challenges Covid-19 poses to people with chronic health conditions.
•Wednesday 26 May – 7pm to 8pm – Supporting students and new grads: Hosted by a panel comprising Calum McIntyre, President of the Association of Veterinary Students (AVS), recent veterinary graduate Fabian Rivers and newly-qualified RVN Remi Onabolu, this event will focus on how Covid has changed the normal structures of study and qualification, including in terms of remote learning, searching for work and how the veterinary community can better support the next generation of veterinary professionals.
•Thursday 24 June - 7pm to 8pm – Leadership: Leadership during a pandemic brings its own challenges and this event’s panel, featuring inspiring veterinary leaders Andrew Green and Carolyn Crowe, will take a look at how these challenges can be successfully navigated while maintaining a focus on team wellbeing, morale and motivation.
•Date tbc - Pandemic parenting: Covid-19 has placed huge pressures on parents with many members of the profession juggling the competing roles of parent, employee and teacher, having to navigate difficult discussions with children, and being separated from extended family support. This event’s panel comprises Liz Barton, the Editor of Veterinary Women, Kit Sturgess, Editor-in-chief of RCVS Knowledge’s Veterinary Evidence Journal and Angharad Belcher.
You can sign up to join any of the events for free by visiting the Eventbrite sign up page here.