On the third September weekend, our Maltese member provided medical coverage at the EuroPride Parade and Concert in Valletta. The festivities included a concert featuring Christina Aguilera and the EuroPride March.
St John Malta was joined by two English volunteers who supported the festivities. Here is what Richard Salter and Mark Adhen from St John Ambulance report:
“From the weekend of 15th to 17th September, we flew to Malta to volunteer alongside the St John Rescue Corps and St John Ambulance Malta at the EuroPride Parade and Concert in Valletta. I had previously attended a Volunteer Swap in 2019 at the Berlin Marathon and had really enjoyed the experience. We had also been to Malta before on a holiday, where we visited the St John Rescue Corps, so it was great to have the opportunity to go back and volunteer alongside the team this time.
On Friday we arrived and headed to the St John Rescue Corps headquarters at Fort Madalena, which was also our accommodation for the weekend. From the very start, the team was so welcoming to us, that we instantly were made to feel part of the team as members of the global St John family.
The event itself took place on Saturday which was a pride parade through Valletta, followed by a concert headlined by Christina Aguilera. We had attended many similar events in England in the past so thought we would be very prepared for what we would be doing, but it was really interesting to see both how St John Malta worked differently and how the crowds behaved differently as well. There were some similarities also that we didn’t expect, such as learning that St John Malta has the exact same uniform and supplier as St John England. It was also great to see lots of equipment and vehicles that St John England had donated to Malta over the years.
During the parade, we set up our treatment centre by the St John’s Co-Cathedral. We had time before the parade started so were able to chat with the volunteers from Malta and share stories of what we get up to. It was particularly great to speak to some of their Youth Leaders who run Badger Setts and Cadet Units across Malta. We were split into teams where we were both made the lead first aiders and deployed to different locations along the parade. The crowds were large, and everyone was having a great time, but casualty figures were very low compared to what we may see in London, particularly with the heat. After treating 1 or 2 patients in total we then moved to the concert site. Everyone was saying they didn’t think we would be busy, which we were surprised by, but that also turned out to be true. The crowd was very well behaved, even picking up their litter after them.
It was great to see how these events are run in different countries. The approach in Malta felt like a more simplified approach, the kit was more basic, they didn’t have specialist teams such as our Medical Response Team, but everyone worked together really well and provided a brilliant service to their community. Volunteer welfare was a massive priority, with lots of food and snacks available and lots of opportunities to take breaks.
I (Mark Adhen) found out about this Volunteer Swap opportunity through a Facebook post by JOIN, but while we were there many fellow volunteers messaged me saying how they would have loved to come, so anything more we can do to advertise these opportunities further would only help with the uptake. Different countries do work differently, which I was more prepared for this time after going to Berlin, but to fully prepare future volunteers they could maybe have a briefing or a Q&A session with a volunteer who has been on a Volunteer Swap before. The key to doing well on these Swaps is to be flexible and go in with an open mind.
I would love the opportunity to attend another Swap in the future, to learn about other countries, to share best practices and to continue to show how St John truly is a global family of like-minded people, all wanting to do their best to support their communities.”