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Daivi is starting her 4th year of Medicine studies and has just completed an intercalated BSc in Paediatrics and Child Health. She has been co-leading the Student-Led Project Save a Baby’s Life, which provides infant life-saving skills training to parents and carers. Learn more about this important project and Daivi’s personal experience managing it in this Profile Piece. Save a Bay's Life is run through the Student-Led Volunteering Programme which supports UCL students to run their own community projects.

Tell us a little bit about the Save a Baby’s Life project.

We teach parents and carers, or anyone who wants to know, how to administer infant lifesaving skills, such as CPR, and how to manage situations of drowning and choking. We run these workshops in children's centres and schools around London.

At the beginning of the year, we recruit volunteers at the Welcome Fairs, after which they are trained by the Royal Life Saving Society. As a result, they receive Life Support Three and Community Instructor qualifications, which enables them to deliver the workshops.

For the workshops, we demonstrate these skills using dummy babies, watch videos provided to us by the Royal Life Saving Society, and we also give parents and carers the opportunity to practise these skills in a controlled environment.

Tell us about your Project Leader role.

Last year, I worked with my co-lead Vaishali and this year I am working with two new Project Leaders – Zara and Dhanyata. So after volunteer recruitment and training, we organise workshops with our partner organisations, some of which we've maintained from last year, like Camden Council, and we also try to make new connections with new partnership organisations. So being project leader involves managing all these facets.

Why did you want to become a Project Leader?

I really enjoyed volunteering and taking part in learning how to teach parents these essential lifesaving skills, and I actually got the opportunity to partly organise a workshop at my old primary school. I got an insight into what it takes to organise outreach and I really wanted to take on some responsibility and help to arrange more workshops on a regular basis and follow the example that the previous project leaders created.

Also, I think Save a Baby’s Life is just an amazing way to connect with the community, which is really valuable to me as a medical student.

It's great to hear how volunteers grow and go on to become project leaders. So now that you were leading the project, what difference do you feel you’ve made?

We were able to organise training much earlier than last year, so as a result we were able to offer more sessions throughout the year and operate more consistently, for which our main partner organisation was really grateful. There is a lot of demand from the parents for our workshops, so hopefully we can offer even more this year.

Another way we helped with paediatric life support awareness was by supporting master’s students who were doing a project on potentially adding a section to the NHS Red Book. It was rewarding to be able to offer our insights on this.

What impact has volunteering, and leading a project had on you?

From our feedback forms, we know that the people who attend our workshops are really appreciative, they learn a lot, and they feel really reassured and confident in their abilities to save a baby’s life. Giving parents, especially expecting parents, this peace of mind is really rewarding.

I think we are empowering parents to be lifesavers in their own communities, for example, if they see a child choking, they will know what steps to take. So, we're really helping to spread awareness of paediatric life support in the communities. Knowing to start CPR very quickly is vital, but a lot of people don't know what to do. By raising this awareness, we can start that chain of events that can maximise children’s chances of survival.

I definitely feel more confident with teaching, and the leadership and interpersonal skills I’m developing are really important to me as a future doctor. I've also really enjoyed volunteering, taking on more responsibilities, and working with the Student’s Union (our project supervisor Santiago has been really helpful).

I'm looking forward to expand our reach by creating new connections with more partner organisations and doing more workshops this year to improve paediatric life support knowledge in the community.

How has your network developed whilst being a Project Leader?

We recruit volunteers from different programmes, and it's been interesting to get to know more people within the university, especially after the pandemic when we’d all been isolated. Also outside of the university, it’s been fantastic to connect with the community alongside our partner organisations as well as the parents who attend the sessions.

What was the biggest challenge you encountered? How did you overcome this challenge?

I remember for our first session last year; we had over 20 people attend and that was our biggest session to date. The space was really limited, so we had to arrange the parents in rows, which isn't ideal because it would be more difficult for the people at the back to see the demonstrators at the front.

We managed to accommodate the space by placing volunteers at regular intervals between the rows, so that parents could see a demonstrator from wherever they sat. I think for the future, we will be able to accommodate sessions with more parents, regardless of space, and would always have a reserve of volunteers. Hopefully we can find bigger venues and we can fulfil demand that we have noticed for our sessions.

Tell us something memorable that’s happened to you whilst being a Project Leader.

When we were recruiting for volunteers, we had a stall at the Volunteering Fair and the RUMS Freshers’ Fair, both of which tend to have very bustling crowds, and so to attract people, we would hold one of the dummy babies in the air and  wave at people, so we definitely caught some attention!

What is the best piece of advice you would give to someone thinking about being a Project Leader?

I would say go for it. Being a project leader gives you the opportunity to set aside the books, set aside the studies, and just go and connect with the community. You get to meet new people and develop your leadership and interpersonal skills.  It’s definitely worth it!

Want to start your own community volunteering project? Find out more and share your ideas with us here!