Throwback to last Wednesday when I was on my way to Birmingham to attend The Big Bang Fair. It’s one of our Outreach standard activities that we attend every year since 2016 because the reach to students is huge, with over 30,000 students attending over the three days this year (hopefully reaching the pre-covid numbers of 80,000 soon!).
One of my favourite interactions was near the end of Friday with a student who came looking for the last freebies he could collect before the bus arrived to take him back to school. I said before he could have any freebies, he had to give me a fact about radiation. His quick response was one I’d been getting all afternoon: “It’s dangerous!” to which my stock answer was to explain it had the potential to be, but that we are The Society for Radiological Protection, and we help people to work safely with radiation. I then asked him to give me a positive fact, to which he was stumped. To give him a hint, I asked him to think about hospitals, and where in a hospital there might be a positive use of radiation. After a few moments thinking hard, he responded “ooh I’ve got one…is it good for your mental health?!”
I had to laugh and gave him the coveted freebies and explained about x-rays and medical treatments. I’m glad to say he then went off to have a go at some of our demos so hopefully went away with more than just a free pencil and sweet.
This is what The Big Bang is all about. Making those connections with people who may never have heard anything (or at least anything good) about radiation protection. It’s utterly exhausting, I was not alone amongst the volunteers in needing the entire weekend to recover, but it makes it worth it when you have some positive interactions. There was one girl who came back three times and then ran back just before her coach was about to leave shouting “I almost forgot to get a sticker from my favourite stand!”, another student that came back several times and before they left wanted a photo with one of our lovely volunteers to remember the day, and another girl who wanted her photo taken next to the SRP sign, again to remember the fun she’d had with us.
Over the three days, we had 28 incredible volunteers helping out. Thank You! Especially those of you who dressed up as our new SPR mascot The Bee – it was very warm inside that suit! But the kids absolutely LOVED The Bee, so it was invaluable in drawing people towards our stand.
If this has whetted your appetite for volunteering and you’d like to help out at any future Outreach events then keep an eye on our weekly newsletter for future opportunities.
Director of Engagement