Burn Clubs and Camp Special Interest Group
Guest blog post from Martin Palmer, Manager of the Children’s Burns Club (based at Broomfield Hospital in Chelmsford and covering linking with burns services in London and the South East) and Chair of the Burns Clubs and Camp Special Interest Group.
The Burn Club and Camp Special Interest Group is made up of burn care professionals and volunteers from the specialist burns services throughout the UK. The group is part of the British Burn Association and meets three times a year to share experiences and good practice on issues such as supporting children and families, recruitment of volunteers, safeguarding and fundraising.
There are currently 14 clubs linked to hospitals across the UK and one national based Burn Camps Charity, which all provide support through a mixture of residential camps, family weekends, days out and structured workshops. The clubs also provide a limited amount of support to help facilitate a National Young Adult support weekend.
In the last year across the UK over 500 children and families have been supported by clubs and this has only been possible through the good will and hard work of staff, fundraisers and commitment of volunteers giving around 25,000 hours of their time.
Clubs vary from being independent charities to being governed under the umbrella of hospital charities; however it appears that regardless of the size of the club and how many events they facilitate each year, they all generally have a waiting list for events or are oversubscribed.
Club activities have included trips to the Pantomime, Seaside, Zoo, Farm, Theme Park, Activity Centres, Sailing, Climbing, Swimming, Bike Rides, Christmas Party, Halloween Party, Workshops and Support Groups for parents, children and siblings. The 2017 National Burn Camp also included guests from Russia and South Korea who enjoyed trips to the World Athletics Championships and Theatre as part of their 10 days in England; and the Manchester Camp continued their exchange programme with two young people from Colorado attending their camp.
Some comments from the children and families from clubs over the last year have been:
“The greatest gift I can give my child will be to forgive myself”
“was nice to hear other people’s stories, to know you are not alone”
“helpful to know I am not the only one and others are coping and dealing with similar situations”
“reassures the children that it’s ok and they can be themselves”
“surprised how easy it was to talk and quite cathartic”
“learnt about myself, shared experiences, learned about coping”
It was fantastic at the British Burn Association’s annual meeting in 2017 to have the impact of burns clubs highlighted, and for the recognition of Tracy Foster’s hard work by her award of the British Empire Medal. The Centre for Appearance Research are developing support services for parents of burn injured children and clubs can be key in encouraging children and families to take part in research studies to help identify and evidence the support that is both beneficial and needed.
Across the country, clubs are planning to continue this support in 2018, and the Special Interest Group would like to thank all volunteers, fundraisers, staff, and all those that made the support in 2017 possible.
We would like to add special thanks to The Children’s Burns Trust, The Firefighters Charity, Dan’s Fund, The Katie Piper Foundation and the Burns Camps Charity, who have all continued to help clubs support their members and families in 2017.