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Over the past ten weeks many Blue Coat students have responded to the current crisis by supporting members of their local community, from dropping off shopping on doorsteps to volunteering at healthcare facilities. One such volunteer is Year 13 student and aspiring doctor Simon Cheung. We caught up with Simon to find out how he has been spending his time following the cancellation of his A Level exams. 

At first I wasn’t sure what to do with myself as I had planned a busy A Level revision schedule for the month of May and decided the best thing to do was to try to catch-up on lost sleep for the next few days, but I opted to make a list of things to learn first and to set out a plan to maximise my time.

My list included improving my sleep hygiene, playing music, studying, resting without screentime and exercising. Over time my list grew longer, I added reading, learning new songs, studying anatomy, human biology and physiology. I also set myself challenges such as running 10km, and I picked up new skills such as juggling, cooking and riding a RipStik as well as trying a variety of new things.

I volunteered for lots of different things: I signed up to Liverpool Council’s volunteer Covid-19 response, signed up to support a local Foodbank, participated in a two day Covid-19 training course with St Johns Ambulance and signed up for hospital deployments, achieved PPE Level 2 Training with Alder Hey and moved from the Emergency Department into the Ronald McDonald House to help keep it running, helped plan Alder Hey’s video calling solution for adult ICU patients and was ready, but thankfully not needed, to go onto the ICU ward.

The past few weeks have been full of uncertainty for so many individuals. As a St John’s Ambulance volunteer I was one of the first to go through the organisation’s Covid-19 training and some of my peers were deployed to London’s nightingale hospital. However, we simply did not see the numbers of patients we were anticipating and I was not deployed to either Manchester’s nightingale that was being built or to a local hospital. Similarly, with Alder Hey’s ICU video calling solution I’d received the necessary physical and mental training/preparation and been a part of the meeting with coordinators and clinicians but when most patients were transferred back to their original hospitals the service was not required anymore. It’s a strange feeling trying to mentally plan and prepare for something big but suddenly not to have to do anything and it’s almost harder to stand idly by and relax – a similar feeling I experienced when I heard my A Level exams were cancelled.

I spend four days out of the week at the hospital now, supporting the Ronald McDonald house with their CEO as their staff have been sent home. It’s rewarding seeing the positive impact our services and support can have for parents during such difficult times and it is sad when I hear bad news about a child I recognise. However, I’ve learnt so much chasing up referrals with the different wards, working with members of staff and talking to parents. The parents are always so relieved to be able to talk about how they are feeling once they find out we can offer them a free room during their child’s stay, since a large majority don’t live in the region.

I feel grateful for having good health. I’m looking forward to my next steps after Blue Coat at the University of Newcastle. I am anticipating more roles and responsibility linked to supporting patients and health facilities affected by Covid-19 in the future.”

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