Mental Health Awareness Week: How you can support the community as a Vetlife Area Representative

Posted on May 14, 2019 by Nina Rossi

Mental health awareness blog

Mental Health Awareness Week
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Name: Brian Hosie, Vicky Robinson and Peter Clark

Area of work: Vetlife Area Representatives

Vetlife Area Representatives provide the interface between Vetlife and those members of the veterinary profession, their relatives, and dependents who benefit from its services. They also play a key role in promoting Vetlife within and outside the profession. Here some of the existing Area Reps share their experiences and explain why they find the role so rewarding. 

Brian Hosie (retired from the Veterinary Investigation Service)

“Members of the veterinary community and their families can fall into financial crisis. We are no different from many others in our wider society who can see their income fall suddenly and/or expenditure increase dramatically and unexpectedly as the result of an accident, illness or mis-fortune. However, we are very fortunate that financial support is available through Vetlife to help ease the burden. This support may be to see a beneficiary through a short-term emergency, or where appropriate, the financial support may be on-going.

As a Vetlife area representative, I am in regular contact with three beneficiaries. I speak to each one on the telephone between two to five times a year and may visit them up to twice a year. The visits are essential to build up a rapport. Their individual circumstances vary greatly but all of them appear to appreciate the personal contact from an area representative. I believe that an ability to listen and develop an understanding of the individual’s circumstances is the essential skill for an area representative. A career in veterinary medicine can equip us well in many ways for such a role.”

Vicky Robinson (Director of Vet Dynamics UK Ltd)

“I became a volunteer Area Representative for Vetlife because I’ve witnessed colleagues in various stages of needing support and really wanted to help in some way. Whilst being a Helpline volunteer wasn’t a role suited to me, I’ve found that becoming an Area Rep can be hugely rewarding, and a great way for me to feel I’m giving something useful back to a profession I feel honoured to be associated with.”

Peter Clark (retired mixed practice vet)

“I became an area representative really by accident. I saw a letter in Vet Record asking for volunteers just as I was in the process of withdrawing from my partnership. I was leaving practice a little earlier than I had planned due to Parkinson’s disease and one of my partners suggested that I should offer my services.

Looking back over the last 15 years as area representative I have learned such a tremendous amount, and it has been a privilege to meet with those involved with the charity and the beneficiaries. Over 15 years I have dealt with around 15 beneficiaries but at no time have I had more than four beneficiaries needing active help to look after.

The most satisfying ones have of course been those who needed help and have come through whatever problem they had. I remember two in particular that I made contact with twelve months or so after we had signed them off, who said they were fine. I wish all beneficiaries could reply in that way but of course life is not like that!”


Could you become a Vetlife Area Representative?

Vetlife Area Representatives use their experience of the veterinary profession to help ensure appropriate support is directed to existing and new beneficiaries in need throughout the UK.

The role can be challenging but also rewarding, with the opportunity to build relationships with Vetlife beneficiaries and to positively impact the lives of members of the profession who may be in need.

Our volunteers often deal with vulnerable people who may be very sensitive, so tact and discretion are essential. Thorough induction and training are provided. If you would like to volunteer to become an area rep, or would like more information on the role, please visit the Vetlife website.

Nina Rossi

Written by Nina Rossi

BVA Media Manager

Nina works for the BVA Media team ensuring the veterinary voice is heard through national, regional and social media across the UK.