On November 18th, we held our third large-scale gathering – Survive and Thrive – welcoming nearly 200 sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) survivors, co-survivors, medical experts, and advocates.
The day exceeded even our highest hopes. As organisers, we were blown away by the courageous stories shared, the instant connections made between perfect strangers, and the wealth of gratitude expressed by attendees for providing a uniquely understanding space.
The post-event survey feedback allows us to fully appreciate the power of this special day.
Out of 44 responses:
- 70% were from Survivors, 20% Co-Survivors, 10% Others
- 94% were Extremely or Very Satisfied with the event
- 88% said it was Extremely or Very Relevant
- 87% said the event was Extremely or Very Helpful
- 92% were Extremely or Very likely to recommend attending future events
- Multiple survivors called it “the best day of my life since my cardiac arrest”
The resounding message is clear: survivors and co-survivors no longer feel alone. They have found their community.
“Overall I feel the event was very well organised the content and presenters were very good and kept me interested throughout the day”
“Everything was so much better than I thought it would be. Extremely pleased & look forward to the next one”
“Very informative, absolutely loved it. My husband and daughter also found meeting other co survivors incredibly helpful. If I had to say something negative it would be that the time went far too quickly. I would have loved another day.”
The Power of Shared Understanding
The number one piece of feedback was just how healing it was to personally connect with others on a similar journey. Statements like:
“I’ve felt like a unicorn this past year. Suddenly I found myself in a room full of unicorns.”
“I felt like the whole day was there to answer all of my unanswered questions”
“We had someone on our table whose event was in July, and it was interesting to see their transformation through the day.”
Many came away feeling they had gained a “whole new family” in a single day. One elated survivor said it was his “best day since cardiac arrest.” The instant rapport gave many renewed hope and courage.
Community & Camaraderie
70% of attendees were first-timers, meaning our community continues rapidly expanding.
Perhaps above all, many remarked how instantly welcome and embraced they felt amongst this community of survivors and co-survivors.
Despite most meeting for the very first time, the environment felt more reunion than conference. In this judgment-free space, masks of coping fell away as people opened up with rarely-shared candor.
As one awed survivor shared:
“I was attending by myself and stayed the whole weekend but found that there was always someone happy to chat with me.”
“Thanks all for the event. Being a few years post-arrest I found myself attending more to support other survivors and enjoyed doing this.”
The forums overflowed with vulnerable courage, light-hearted laughter, words of reassurance, and exchanges of contact information.
One grateful survivor told us:
“A reminder to myself of why it is so important to be more of an active member of this group, I’ve spent the last 6 months or so cutting myself off from most things.”
The pervasive atmosphere of warmth and care in this community creates safety for even the shyest to grow in confidence. Wallflower or social butterfly, no one is excluded.
“So uplifting to be surrounded by people who relate, empathise and understand”
And from a Co-Survivor
“The peer support that occurred in the co- survivors room was amazing to be part of. I think a lot of people left that room with hope and some strategies”
Wisdom From Medical Experts
Another highlight was learning from our 10 esteemed medical experts, including cardiologists, electrophysiologists, paramedics, a speech therapist, researcher and more.
93% deemed the sessions extremely or very relevant. Attendees valued demystifying cardiac devices and interventions as well as better understanding the emotional, psychological, and social elements of recovering.
As one grateful survivor admitted: “I should have attended a CPR session. This was my first event so I prioritized the talks.”
Others told us:
“All the presentations were excellent and really aided our understanding.”
“As a co-survivor, having the ‘plumbing and electrician’ side explained in plain language was so helpful.”
Your Suggestions: Lessons for the Future
While we received overwhelming praise, constructive ideas for improvement can make future gatherings even more meaningful:
What do you think of these suggested improvements? Join the conversation below!
- Time Management
“Better time management within the agenda is needed to minimise overrun.”
Do you agree?
Have you been to conferences that managed time well?
How did they accomplish that?
- Interactivity vs. Sit-and-Listen
“Include more interactive elements vs. sit-and-listen speeches.”
What kinds of activities would you like to see that could bring more engagement?
Share your ideas!
- Onboarding First-Timers
“Host an intro/ice breaker session the evening prior for newcomers.”
What would make a welcome event helpful?
Orientation to the schedule?
- Special Dietary Needs
“Offer healthier food options that align with post-cardiac needs.”
What meal options should we provide that meet survivor dietary restrictions?
- Peer Support
“Introduce small group topic sessions on shared struggles.”
Are there any challenges you face where advice from fellow survivors could help?
- Community Building
“Build in more time for mingling and networking.”
What are ways we could foster more personal connections and camaraderie?
We wholeheartedly agree peer support should be central. After all, who better to lean on than those walking a similar path?
Gratitude to All Involved
We thank every single speaker, volunteer, attendee and sponsor who made this gathering possible. You have made an incredible difference in the lives of our community.
Join Us Again!
If you weren’t able to attend this time, make sure to join us at the next SCA UK event! Heart-warmingly, the vast majority said they absolutely plan to join future gatherings and nearly everyone said they were very or extremely likely to recommend futures events to other survivors and co-survivors,
Stay tuned here and on our social channels for date announcements. We expect even more survivors, co-survivors, advocates and experts from around the country to converge for another weekend of inspiration, wisdom and solidarity.
This community is only growing stronger.
Together, we are overcoming isolation to transform survivorship. Our collective voice is building awareness and better care while proving, unequivocally, that there is much living yet to do after cardiac arrest.
We can’t wait to see you at the next gathering!
After our first meet-up in February 2015, I realised I was not alone. It was the first time since my cardiac arrest the previous year that I had spoken face-to-face with someone who had experienced what I had. This was also true for my wife, who also happened to be my lifesaver. From that meet-up, the idea of SCA UK was born. Since then, we have achieved a considerable amount, primarily providing information, resources and support to others in a similar situation but also raising the profile of survivorship and the need for better post-discharge care. We are starting to get traction in this, and with the formation of the charity, I genuinely believe we have a bright future ahead and will make a significant difference in the lives of many who join our ranks.