Sometimes we get asked for advice about how to start a Medicine/ healthcare widening participation (WP) society. We thought it would be useful to put together a quick guide to starting up a society like BWAMS.
Work with your Outreach department
Get in touch with the staff who work in Outreach/ Widening Access at your medical school - from experience it's much easier to work in collaboration with each other. They will be able to advise you on your medical school's specific WP initiatives that they already run, so you can share that information with students. They might also be able to support you in being GDPR compliant and advertising your events to local schools.
Make a splash on social media
Start Twitter, Instagram and Facebook accounts for your society - and follow other WP societies on social media. Social networking sites are a great way to reach schools and students, but also a fantastic way to raise the profile of your society and recruit more volunteers - both university students and staff.
Check if you need DBS checks or Safeguarding training
Your new society is likely to fall under your MedSoc or Student Union - and they are likely to have a safeguarding policy for all activities involving under 18s. This might mean they want your volunteers to get a new DBS check, or that you all need to take part in safeguarding training. Find out early on what you need to do, so it isn't a surprise later in the year.
Get inspiration from other WP societies
When we wanted to expand our schools programme, the first thing we did was reach out to other WAMS societies and ask what they were doing. Plymouth WAMS sent over their session plans and we used this as inspiration for our new schools programme.
Tie things in with the national curriculum
If you are aiming to run sessions in schools, the best advice is read over the UK National Curriculum - the Science curriculum is available here. Schools love it if you can deliver part of the curriculum, as it reduces their workload! Basic Life Support/ CPR is going to part of the Citizenship curriculum for 2020/21 so it's a fantastic outreach opportunity!
Good luck with your new society, and reach out to us if you have any questions - we would be more than happy to have a chat on the phone and share some advice!
Words: Kirsty Morrison