StreetDoctors is a charity set up to teach people at risk of violence first aid, from young offenders to people that have never offended before. They teach them the skills they will need in a situation where someone has been stabbed or are unconscious, so that they can save a life when it matters.
Dr Emma Brooks is the Sheffield StreetDoctors team leader. The Sheffield branch was set up almost four years ago and currently has 19 volunteers.
She said: “People assume gangs and guns is just a problem in London but it’s not, it’s all over the country” – “I work in A&E and you see it first-hand.”
Violence is the UK’s third leading cause of death among young people and so the aim of StreetDoctors is to teach them what to do when they encounter someone bleeding or unconscious.
Emma said: “We have to make our teaching engaging and interactive, we’re their peers and not adults wagging fingers.”
The teaching of bleeding involves Ribena…
Emma said that as a way to make the lessons interactive, a bottle of Ribena is used to illustrate blood in a body and a wooden spoon is the knife.
If you take the wooden spoon out, the Ribena drains from the bottle, as blood would from a person.
“The first time I taught a session it was terrifying, absolutely terrifying I thought, what if they walk out or swear at me, but that’s part of the prejudice that we need to work against, they were really interested and had a reason to be interested.”
“It’s a hobby for us, it’s not for our CV’s, it’s because we enjoy it.”
Speaking of a time working in A&E, Emma said:
“One young lad came in with a slash down his cheek to his lip and it was just one big flap and you could see his teeth – his mum came in screaming, ‘that’s not my son’ and crying.
The cheek was fixable but the scar on his family will be huge, and that’s why we do what we do, to stop that from happening.”
Emma said that it is emotionally hard but you that as a positive, it’s a chance to give something back to people that don’t often get a chance to be themselves.
“You get to be an advocate for young people – the moment it stops being fun, is the moment we start to panic.”