Monday 24 August 2015

Volunteering at the Cystic Fibrosis Trust

As part of the Trust's commitment to volunteering, we've had the pleasure of welcoming two interns from the US to our office this Summer as part of a Study Abroad in London opportunity. To give a taste of what volunteering with us here in Aldgate, Leslie Drennan, one of these interns, gives an insight into her experience.

Spending a summer working in a city four thousand miles from everything I was familiar with was both intimidating and exciting at the start, but any fear I had was soon quelled by the brilliant and friendly staff at the Cystic Fibrosis Trust. Coming in, I knew I would be working with the Information and Support team, but wasn’t quite sure what that would entail.

As soon as I arrived, I was welcomed by my supervisor, James Atkins, and spent the next few days getting to know my way around the office and the other people I would be working with for the next seven weeks. The Information and Support team puts together packets of information about cystic fibrosis (CF) for schools, children and parents, as well as monitoring calls coming into the helpline so they can give appropriate advice to those who call in. I was eager to help in any way possible, so they immediately involved me in every project they were working on. I did everything from researching methods to better serve the CF community to helping fill out travel insurance forms.

Along the way, I learned a great deal about CF and how it impacts not only those who have it, but every person that comes into contact with it. The effects are not felt equally by every person, as there are almost two thousand forms of the condition. Life can be quite difficult for those dealing with lung or pancreatic issues. However, I think the most essential thing I learned was that a person’s attitude towards CF makes all the difference, both psychologically and physically. I was given an entirely new perspective on my own health because of how much I take for granted on a daily basis.

Jacqueline Ali, Head of Information and Support, set up two CF clinic visits for me after learning about my interest in becoming a psychologist. This rounded out my experience at the Trust as I got to see first-hand at how clinicians and patients must work closely with one another in order to best combat CF. Every person I worked with went out of their way to make me feel welcome and useful.

Overall, my experience at the Trust is one that I will always remember. Whether learning about best practice in the workplace or how to integrate myself into another culture, I’ve gained an immense amount from my placement. In fact, I’ve enjoyed my role in this charity so much that I am now considering going into non-profit work once I graduate from university. I feel very fortunate to have had the opportunity to work for and with such driven, intelligent and pleasant people. My time at the Cystic Fibrosis Trust has easily been the best part of coming to London.

Want to give some of your time to the fight against cystic fibrosis? Find out more about volunteering with us at

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