‘Inspiring Stories’ with Traci Carroll

Public Contributor involved with the Faculty of Medicine who has been recognised by the Public Contributor Recognition Scheme

This is part of the Engaged Medicine ‘Inspiring Stories’ blog series. The blogs explore the stories behind outreach and patient-public engagement activities of staff and students from the University of Southampton’s Faculty of Medicine.

What happened at the Mayflower Theatre on the 13th July 2022 in some ways transformed my life

This blog is written by Traci Carroll, a public contributor who has been involved in work at the Faculty of Medicine. Traci reflects on the “Working Together: A participatory and coproduced research workshop” and her involvement with the Faculty of Medicine so far.

I first got involved with the work of the Faculty of Medicine at the start of 2020. My first thought was but what can I really add? Curiosity got the better of me and before you know it, I had not only applied but was participating with them on a Zoom call.

What an experience. I felt exhilarated. Here, I was given a voice to express the issues as I saw them. I felt lucky! The way I see it is this work in the NHS and University is public sector work, so ordinary people’s views are vital.

The workshop

I was invited by the Faculty of Medicine to join them at the “Working Together” workshop to hear from different speakers. I was to be there as a public contributor, but I got far more than I bargained for as I would hear and speak to the most interesting people ever. At the time, unbeknown to me, this would shape what I really want to do in the future. I realise that I want to contribute in some small way to help improve the public sector now that I have been made redundant, and all because of this brilliant event!

The workshop on 13th July was a great lesson in adult education to me and was extremely useful to all who attended.

I learnt about “dead names” from the speaker who told us how lots of LGBTQ+ students are struggling with how society perceives them. I hope this changes soon. I had never heard the expression before, but I completely get that our beautiful non-binary youth want a name that they can identify with. I am heterosexual but at fourteen I would replace the Y at the end of my own name with a I. It was to become the only spelling of my name I would recognise as me after that point.

I learnt useful information on the environment and how to be a better inhabitant of planet earth. I know I will be more mindful going forward, but for me the speaker that really made me sit up and pay attention was Dr Kate Hough who spoke about the benefit of cochlear implants, who said: “cochlear implants bypass damaged portions of the ear and directly stimulate the auditory nerve.” To hear about this was music to my own ears. I had to speak out. I raised my hand:

“This will help my 85-year-old dad who has a basic hearing aid currently, only he would never have known about these implants if I had not come to this event as you say you promote on Twitter and social media!” I knew what I was hearing was a game changer to the ageing members of our society and especially to my beloved dad. She agreed to go out to community groups to spread the word on the future. Not only Kate, in fact everyone I have met from the Faculty of Medicine is inclusive and kind.

Working alongside the Faculty of Medicine and research as a public contributor is not only a gift for me but more importantly for the wider community. Otherwise, it’s a case of us and them which is never any good.

I can’t wait for the next Faculty of Medicine workshop as the organisers always make me feel useful and that I have a purpose, as well as much as for their greater good. I cannot thank the organisers enough for inviting me to this workshop. To put it succinctly, my diary entry for that day simply read: “Great day.”

Get involved

I am bravely typing this last bit and am certainly not bragging, but I have received a certificate! The full title is the Public Contributor Recognition Scheme award. The scheme was established in 2022 between the University of Southampton’s Faculty of Medicine and University Hospital Southampton NHS Trust as a way of thanking and providing feedback to public contributors who work with researchers, educators or other members of staff. Find out more here.

My husband has survived cancer twice because University Hospital Southampton is the very best. I feel so very blessed to be involved with the work of the Hospital and Faculty of Medicine. I would recommend anyone and everyone to get involved.

For more information about the event and to watch videos from the day click here.

Stay Connected! To find out more about the ‘Inspiring Stories’ series, Faculty of Medicine educational programmes and research, or to get involved use the links below or contact Dr Lucy Green.

University staff or students click here for the Engaged Medicine SharePoint.

‘Inspiring Stories’ with Traci Carroll

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