Meet the student paramedics on a mission to help others by taking part in Our Future Health

Volunteer Voices – 24 April 2024
We joined five trainee paramedics at their clinic appointment to talk about their hopes for our programme and what it means for young people

In their day-to-day lives as student paramedics at the University of Hertfordshire, these twentysomethings are training to care for people in the most critical of conditions. 

But their passion for helping others doesn’t stop there. 

Last month, Aaliyah, Makayla, Remy, Lucy-Alissara and Emre took advantage of a day-off from lectures and work placements to sign up for Our Future Health.  

We met them at our Potters Bar clinic, to learn about their reasons for joining the UK’s largest health research programme. 

L to R: Our Future Health volunteers Aaliyah, Makayla, Remy, Lucy-Alissara and Emre

‘Many callouts are to people struggling with long-term illness’

Although only in their second year of university, the five students are fully aware of the demands of their chosen profession.   

“Paramedics must be prepared for anything, from driving an ambulance to delivering a baby,” says 23-year-old Aaliyah Robinson-Richards. “A lot of callouts I attend though are for heart related issues, strokes and neurological emergencies. If more people had a greater awareness of their risk of these diseases as a result of Our Future Health, I can see that reducing pressures on paramedics – and the NHS at all levels.”  

Emre Mehmet, 20, is hopeful Our Future Health will support the drive towards more preventative care. “Being a paramedic feels like a privilege – you see life in all its stages. But we learn that we can’t always treat the symptoms we encounter. Sometimes, once a condition has set in, all we can do is manage the symptoms. 

“I’d like to see more focus on preventing disease. That way, we won’t get to people when it’s already too late.” 

22-year-old Makayla Du Toit concurs. “If something that’s a death sentence today becomes easily preventable in the future, that would be amazing.” 

21-year-old Remy: “It’s important to take part in health research so science can keep moving forward”

A chance to be the change

While the five students all shared a passion for getting ahead of disease, they also had their individual reasons for supporting Our Future Health. 

“My dad is British and my mum is Thai, so I want to encourage people of different backgrounds like me to take part in Our Future Health,” says 21-year-old Lucy-Alissara Cameron. “I know there’s been a lack of diversity in a lot of health research in the past, so I see Our Future Health as my chance to help plug the gap.” 

According to one study, 5% of people from ethnic minority groups in the UK have participated in medical research. However, these groups make up 14% of the total UK population.  

“If people from all backgrounds sign up, we can make sure future generations benefit from healthcare that works for everyone,” says Lucy-Alissara. 

For Emre, his experience of being diagnosed with stage 4 Wilms tumour as a child motivated him to join our programme. “I’ve witnessed first-hand how important research is. I was only able to beat cancer because of medical breakthroughs made in the past.” 

23-year-old Aaliyah: “The fact that Our Future Health will be a long-term study is exciting to me”

Investing in the future

One thing all five of the trainee-paramedics share is youth. Historically, people in their age bracket have been underrepresented in healthcare. Our Future Health is committed to changing that, by building a resource that truly reflects the UK population. 

“Young people maybe don’t see how research will benefit them – potential health issues can feel abstract and like a long way off,” says 21-year-old Remy Arblaster. “But we need to remember that the sooner scientists make discoveries, the better the results will be when we are older.  

“We’re already more at risk of age-related diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s than previous generations, because people are living longer now.”

20-year-old Emre: “When it comes to health research, I’ve always had a curious mind”

‘You won’t regret signing up’

For the five students, the clinic visit took barely half an hour of out their day. “Signing up to Our Future Health was easy,” says Remy. “There are clinics all around the country, so we booked our appointments close to our university campus. We made it a group day out.” 

“It’s a good feeling, to be here and take part,” says Lucy-Alissara. “You know that taking part could help you, and you’re contributing to research that’ll help millions of people for generations to come.”

The final word goes to Emre: “Get involved, don’t look back, you won’t regret it!” 

Let’s prevent disease together

By volunteering for Our Future Health, you can help health researchers discover new ways to prevent, detect and treat common conditions such as diabetes, cancer, heart disease, stroke and Alzheimer’s.

Find out moreJoin Our Future Health now