With survival rates being so low, it is highly likely that as someone who has been affected by a sudden cardiac arrest you won’t of met someone else who’s had a similar experience, be it as a survivor, partner, rescuer etc.
However, as more attention is placed on improving the chain of survival i.e. CPR and AEDs, the survival rate will surely increase and then we are faced with the good problem of having more survivors. In the past, these survivors and their families have not traditionally had many opportunities or resources to help them meet others who’ve been through this life-changing experience. This is a real shame as meeting others can be a massive boost to all concerned. If you are not a member of our group you would do yourself a massive favour by joining us as you would get some of the benefits of interacting with other survivors without having to leave your seat!
SCA UK started life as a meet-up of 13 people in a pub in London in 2015, we were all total strangers, but by the end of it many stories had been shared, problems halved, realisations made and bonds formed. In the years since the meet-up has continued with more and more attendees each time, and more and more friendships established. Members come from all over the country to attend the London event so it’s worth just checking here to see when the next one is.
Establishing a meet-up can be a very valuable resource for survivors and their families, and incredibly rewarding for the individuals who support them. As we saw in London, they can provide an outlet to share stories and frustrations, a resource for finding answers to medical questions, and simply awareness that a victim of cardiac arrest is not alone, and that others have experienced similar fears and anxieties. Research has shown the importance of social support in recovery from all sorts of illnesses and injuries, and a meet-up is one way to increase that support.
Meet-ups do not all have to look the same, the London ones are getting bigger and take a little more organising, but a new regional one could easily start with just a few people who want to meet for a coffee and chat. If more are likely to be involved then you may need to find a suitable location and even one that allows you to book a table or suitable space/room. Whatever form they take though, they should all provide a forum for survivors to meet and help each other as peers.
Starting a meet-up
Establishing a new meet-up is a rewarding experience, although it can be time-consuming and requires dedication.
You should consider the following when arranging a meet-up:
- Are there members in your area? Use members map
- Would there be enough interest? Ideally at least 3, do a post in the group
- Give people enough warning i.e. ideally at least a month
- Have around three options for the date & time – use Doodle
- Be considerate when selecting a venue – use TripAdvisor
- Is your venue easily reachable? public transport, car – use GeoMidPoint
- Advertise your meet-up in the group and maybe your local cardiac facility
Be aware that although you may get initial interest in your meet-up you will need to keep the momentum going and make sure it is firmly in people’s diaries. there’s nothing more disappointing than arranging a meet-up for people not to turn up. Although it is almost inevitable that there will be some no-shows, so don’t be disheartened if you don’t get a full turnout. It’s quite likely you did nothing wrong and that they got cold feet at the last moment – for some survivors it can be quite daunting going out again, let alone meeting total strangers.
Below you will find free resources to help you arrange a meet-up in your area:
Facebook – Contact one of the admins in the SCA UK group and we can help you set up an official Facebook event for your meet-up. This will give it visibility to all members of the group and will help you to advertise and keep track of who is interested in attending.
Doodle – this is a simple polling tool that can help your potential attendees vote on decisions such as date and location.
GeoMidPoint – this can help you establish the most central place to meet. Ignore the fact it defaults to a map of the US, just enter in the addresses (postcode) of those wishing to attend. It then indicates on the map where the mid-point is (using an “M” symbol), you can then select the type of place you’d like to meet i.e. coffee shop, restaurant etc and it will show all the nearest ones.
TripAdvisor – great for helping you establish your venue, check out the ratings and comments to see that it will be suitable for all attending.
Google Maps – it’s always worth checking how easy it is to get to your chosen venue via public transport and also by car. Access to public transport is essential as often survivors are not able to drive e.g. they are in a suspension period or they are no longer able to drive for health reasons. Google maps allow you to get directions and travel times for numerous transport types.
What a meet-up is not
Although the goal is to provide support to those affected by an SCA, a meet-up cannot replace the services provided by professional counsellors, psychologists and other medical providers. If someone attends your meet-up and you think that they need professional help and are not getting it, please advise them to do so. It’s also worth remembering that as members of our group you can get some free counselling