Public Education Officer John Wright

John Wright - public education officerWorking in the Patient and Public Involvement and Public Education Department has been, and continues to be, a great experience. I consider myself to be very lucky as, after 28 years with the London Ambulance Service, I am still happy to come to work each day.

I am part of a small team which receives over 1000 requests each year to attend patient involvement and public education events. By engaging with patients and the public we can take their views into account when planning for the future. We also use these opportunities to deliver health care information and advice to the diverse communities we serve.

We have a list of over 800 staff across the Service who volunteer to attend patient and public education events, often in their own time.  I am always very impressed with the enthusiasm that our staff show when giving up their valuable time off to volunteer at public events. 

My biggest project so far has been to promote the Service’s involvement in helping reduce youth violence and knife crime on the streets of London. I am responsible for a number of projects that have been initiated in partnership with other agencies such as the police, youth offending teams and youth groups and charities.

My role is to highlight to the young people we meet about the potential consequences of becoming involved in gangs and how important it is to make the right choices at a young age. We are currently working in primary schools with the police and ex-gang members with year six students before they make the transition to secondary school.

I have had a number of young people say to me that they don’t care if they die as a result of gang violence because it’s final, it’s over for them. So, we try and concentrate more around what it might be like to be left paralysed or living with a colostomy after receiving serious injuries. We provide a blood loss demonstration using fake blood and show some graphic pictures of young people living with disabilities as a result of being caught up in youth violence.

When you are working with a group of young people who are on Court Orders to attend sessions and they don’t want to be there it can sometimes be quite challenging. However, when you receive positive feedback it makes it all worthwhile.

Hopefully this kind of work will to reduce the amount of violent youth crimes in London, not only for the young people, but also for our staff. I know from my past experience as a paramedic how distressing it can be to deal with such an incident.

If you are interested in trying to set up a similar project in your area and would like some assistance please contact our department.