Rethinking Resilience: “It’s the relationship that heals”

On the 17th March 2021 the first ever event of the newly formed University of Hull Alumni Health Professional Network took place. Over 50 of our alumni, students, academic staff, and practice partners attended and the key theme for the event was Rethinking Resilience’.

Speakers (from left) Amber, Zach, Samantha, Warren

Attendees were welcomed by Professor Paul Hagan, Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences, and this was followed by four inspirational speakers. Amber Amey (BSc Sport Rehabilitation student), Personal Trainer, MSc Physiotherapy, Zach North, Lecturer in the Paramedic, Peri-operative and Advanced Practice department, Sam Kitchen, is a 2nd year Learning Disability Nursing student, and Warren Larkin (Psychology alumni, Founder and Managing Director Warren Larkin Associates, and part of the #ResilienceTaskForce). 

All four speakers approached the theme from a different perspective, but for each of them, in different ways, relationships were key and resilience was a process not an end point.

For Amber, whose studies, work and passions have taken her into male dominated sports, teams and cultures, focussing on what she can change in a situation, and accepting what she can’t change has been key to her making a difference for the people she works with and being a role model for the next generation of girls who want to succeed in these areas.

After Amy, Zach talked about his own personal resilience journey, and was clear that for him resilience was also tied to continued learning and academic growth. He talked about resilience as something that was not a single moment in time, but an ongoing process that was also formed by our relationships with others. He used the metaphor of a piece of chainmail armour, with some links that were stronger than others.

Sam helped us to shine some light on the student experience, having established the Hull University Nursing Society to help nursing students who are learning under the extraordinary circumstances of COVID. She talked about ways the network was supporting students’ ongoing learning, helping them deal with the challenges of this remarkable year, and how it planned to support the development of student nurses going forward.

Our final speaker, Warren, looked at the subject from the perspective of a Clinical Psychologist, examining the role of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE’s) in our wellbeing as adults. Quoting Philip Larkin’s famous poems about parents, This Be The Verse, Warren talked about the cumulative affects of issues building up over time, and suggested that instead of focussing just on responding to problems, we look at prevention. He finished with Desmond Tutu’s quote: “There comes a point where we need to stop just pulling people out of the river. We need to go upstream and find out why they’re falling in.”

The over-riding theme emerging in the Q&A was the importance of having access to, and creating supportive relationships to build and sustain resilience. Mentoring also arose and was well received as an idea that our newly formed Health Professional Network could support going forward.

The network aims to bring together those working in the health sector, studying or graduating from one of the health science subjects. It provides a place to network, enthuse and inspire each other and if you are interested in being involved in future events or speaking at one, please contact alumni@hull.ac.uk

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