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Lucia – volunteer dental nurse

I first volunteered with Dentaid to help me reignite a slightly flagging enthusiasm for a career that I had dedicated 15 years of my life to, it turns out – it was just what the dentist ordered!

It started with nursing shifts in the travelling clinics.  The more I got involved, the more I began to feel like a part of it! You become the face of actual help for people who can’t access dental care anywhere else, you hear about their worries and dental pain and their relief that they are finally able to have something done about it! Your preconceptions get completely blown away and you achieve – all within the space of a 6-hour block. Truly not a bad way to spend an odd day off!

There are so many things to get involved with! The Dentaid warehouse is simply glorious – the truly excellent people who volunteer there are often testing and refurbishing the donated equipment, with an equally excellent array of tools on hand and they’ve had space for me to get my hands in too! There are BrightBites sessions – where you go to give basic OHI often to children who wouldn’t have received it elsewhere, there’s helping out the team restock and organise the vans and supplies before journeys both near and (extremely) far. And of course, there is also how it all started for me – with a single nursing shift in a van, trying to make a difference.

When I joined Dentaid it was just after leaving a very stressful job. I had needed a change and wanted to remind myself why I had been so enthusiastic about dentistry all those years before.

I had spent many hours at reception desks breaking bad news to patients ‘I’m sorry, but we’re not accepting NHS, if there’s any chance you can afford it – here are our private options’ ‘Here is how to contact 111 while you (endlessly) wait for spaces to become available’. It can make you disheartened and cynical, you have to be careful how much you care or it begins to weigh you down. Then I found a way to actually help – and all I had to offer was me, my nursing experience and my wish “to do something.”

Dentaid was that reminder … and that something! Being surrounded by people who had all happily chosen to be there on their own free time, meeting the patients who quite literally had no other access to dental care, having my preconceptions blown away and soaking up the enthusiasm and experience of the volunteers around me and the quiet gratitude and end results of each patient that walked through the doors of our dental truck.



There were no quotas to reach, long appointments were given to provide as much help as possible to each patient, coffee and work-satisfaction were both on tap and being in the truck felt much like a caravan holiday – but working hard to help each person in need, both those who had pre-booked but also those who stopped hopefully by on the off chance we had a spare slot for the day. We had to be inventive, using the supplies that had been donated and the equipment we had on hand. We had to be empathetic and welcoming, non-judgmental and kind, efficient and on-the-ball.

In the end, we just had to be there. Willing to give up half a day of our free time to make the most indescribable differences for some of the most deserving patients that I have ever had the pleasure to meet. In return I got to see some of the most calmly, carefully phrased and beautifully empathetic appointments  learnt more within a few hours about rehab drugs and various cancer therapies  and their effect on dentistry than I had in the last 15 years and also – got to ride that achievement high all through the month until it was time for the next clinic!

I’ve been with Dentaid for just over a year now – here’s to many more!

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