Q&A: RMBF volunteer, Dr Charlie Holden

Dr Charlie Holden is a surgical trainee and RMBF volunteer based in Cardiff.

During the first wave of the Covid-19 pandemic, while working in Brighton, Charlie wrote about doctors’ experiences on the frontline for the RMBF blog.

Since moving to South Wales, he has delivered frequent sessions and talks to help ensure medical colleagues know what support the charity can offer, recruiting a host of new volunteers in the process.

In 2019, Charlie also helped raise over £23,000 for the RMBF and Mind, and to shine a spotlight on doctors’ mental health struggles to a huge audience, riding with his friend Dr Mike on a Bike on a round-the-world cycle challenge.

For Volunteers’ Week, we asked Charlie about how he came across the RMBF, why he feels connected to the charity, and his volunteering journey since then.

What inspired you to become a volunteer for the RMBF?

I first heard of the RMBF when my friend Mike was planning his round-the-world cycle ride, and we were looking for a charity to partner with. We’d ridden the rollercoaster of medical school and passed out the other side as foundation doctors. During those years we’d regularly see friends and colleagues struggling with their health, or an unexpected change in circumstance, which had put them in difficulty. The RMBF is there for those medical students and doctors.

“Sometimes, just knowing there’s someone who cares is all the support you need.”

Whether pedalling up a snow-capped mountain pass in Turkey, or sheltering from the midday sun under a bridge in India, the thought of the work that the RMBF was doing helped push us to ride on. Once I was home, it inspired me to become more involved as a volunteer for the charity.

What volunteer activities do you do and why is it so important?

Now a surgical trainee in South Wales, I’ve focused my efforts on raising awareness of the RMBF to junior doctors in my area – specifically, by giving talks to incoming foundation doctors at my trust. That’s important to me because as a new doctor you’re extremely vulnerable. You may have been thrust into a new region or hospital you’ve never been to before. If you have a tough experience at work, you have limited experience to fall back on. You’re extremely unlikely to have significant financial savings should your circumstances change.

Sometimes, just knowing there’s someone who cares about you is all the support you need. Colleagues who reach out to the RMBF will find an engaged, caring charity who’ll do anything within their means to help put you back on your feet.

Can you tell us about a highlight or favourite moment during your volunteering role?

Having recently given a talk to junior doctors, it was an amazing feeling to get an email from Kate, the RMBF’s Head of Volunteering, saying that some of those who attended the talk had now signed up as volunteers themselves. That gave me a massive personal boost!

What would you say to people considering volunteering for the RMBF?

If you’re thinking of becoming a volunteer I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it. You can truly make the role your own. Want to focus on events and raising money? Fantastic! Want to raise awareness and highlight how the RMBF could help your colleagues? Great! Every contribution makes a difference, and whatever your particular strengths, you’ll be warmly welcomed into the RMBF volunteer team.

Our thanks to Charlie for taking the time to answer our questions – and for his tireless volunteering efforts!

Find out more about volunteering for the RMBF