Give sick kids a power up. That’s the motto of the charity which I’m proud to volunteer for, Get-Well Gamers. We gather donations of games and consoles in order to give them to children’s wards in hospitals and hospices across the UK.
Hospitals can be scary, lonely, boring places, with slow moving days, leading to what can be a troubling environment for children. Gaming can be a great icebreaker. Whether played online, or with friends, games help connect people and have been shown to aid in pain management. I experienced this as a shy child on the ward, when kicking ass at Tekken 3 made the bigger kids my friends! That’s the kind of interaction Get-Well Gamers aims to foster.
I became involved with Get-Well Gamers after a number of years of depression, isolation and poor health. Having always wanted to be a doctor, I studied Medicine. I didn’t fit in at all on this course, didn’t make friends, and felt like a fraud every time I dressed to go to placements, but tried to grind my way to the end, hoping the degree would help in any case.
I failed my exams every year, and passed the resits, before the inevitable happened, and I crashed out after five years of growing mental health issues. Following this, I worked in call centres, which helped my anxiety no end! In early 2018, at my lowest ebb, I had a breakdown, following a sudden bereavement, and loss of a job.
At this time, I honestly felt worthless. My future looked bleak, I couldn’t ever see myself happy, I had chronic health issues, and I felt I had nothing to wake up for. I saw an advert online for a part time Escape Room job, and on a whim due to my love of Monkey Island, Broken Sword and…well, The Crystal Maze, I applied. I’m now having an amazing time within my new team, finally happy in a role where I can let my personality through, and help people enjoy a great day out. I did, however, find myself with more spare time and energy than I knew what to do with, having shut down all of my hobbies as the years had passed.
I posted on Reddit, just asking if there were any video games charities in Glasgow looking for help, and James Stewart, the chair of Get-Well Gamers invited me to volunteer. Within the week, I had packaged and posted donations for five hospitals, and I was hooked. I joined the group online, and quickly found a community of like-minded gamers dedicated to helping sick kids.
I quickly became more involved, helping to develop volunteer packs so new volunteers feel empowered to do what they can, especially as we expand. I joined the social media team. I made a ridiculous Post-It note mosaic on my wall. I felt encouraged every step of the way, as my contributions to a number of areas were recognised. It thrills me that I finally have the chance to develop and expand with freedom as I work with so many talented creators and volunteers. GWG really is changing my perception on life and myself, as I am able to throw myself into challenges and tasks which I never thought I would have the chance to. I feel as if I’ve tapped in a cheat code to unlock my own future.
I’m delighted so much is happening to grow Get-Well Gamers, and I’m genuinely excited to see what the end of the year brings for both the charity and myself. I can honestly say that GWG has given me a power up!