A movie experience like no other. MediCinema opened its first ever facility at St. Thomas’ Hospital 14 years ago and it has grown into something of an institution, much-loved by patients, staff and volunteers alike. This year they’ve screened to over 20,000 patients, their relatives and members of staff, giving them the chance to enjoy an uplifting social experience without having to leave the hospital.
This week, Toby goes on location at Guy’s Hospital in a fun multicolored cinema theater right in the heart of London. Patients get quality care and VIP treatment while they watch the latest blockbuster with their families, carers and nurses. Toby is joined by Kat and Nicks who tell their first hand experience in delivering this unique entertainment to patients throughout the UK.
0:45 – Opening words with Toby and James.
8:20 – Interview with Kat and Nicks with Toby
9:16 – Who’s the team behind MediCinema?
10:27 – Nicks tells us about her responsibilities as General Manager at Guy’s and St. Thomas’
11:00 – Capacity of the Cinema.
11:26 – What’s the difference between MediCinema from a normal cinema?
12:59 – Clinically handing over patients from the ward.
14:14 – Providing an experience with the patient’s families and carers.
14:58 – Catering to children and their families at the cinema
16:02 – Kat tells us a bit about the Launch at Chelsea and Westminster
16:25 – How is it handling a cinema in Guy’s one of the biggest hospitals in London
17:07 – How does ticketing work?
18:00 – Find out how Nicks and her team handle face-to-face interaction with the patients.
19:36 – How many screenings per week?
20:41 – The challenge of needing more volunteers to help facilitate screenings.
22:11 – Technical challenges and logistics
23:12 – The dual use of the cinema venues for other functions
25:11 – Kat briefly talks about the Cinema Specs
26:15 – How long has MediCinema been going?
26:49 – Thinking about the various factors of building a cinema in a hospital
27:33 – No food allowed
27:55 – History of MediCinema
30:06 – Find out how MediCinema does their fund raising events and funding sources
32:06 – What’s the most nuts thing that someone’s done to raise money?
33:05 – “People are so creative about what they do.”
33:27 – Have they got other cinemas planned?
34:04 – Moving the Cinema in Glasgow to a bigger hospital site
34:30 – Quirks of launching a venue inside a hospital
36:13 – The ongoing challenge is running costs.
37:03 – Creating a whole community of like-minded people
38:40 – The amazing shared experience of actually going to cinema for those who can’t
40:00 – Patients creating bonds and relationships by breaking down barriers
42:44 – What is their ultimate visions and values?
43:42 – Going international
44:16 – The specific position of having the Film industry in one hand and Healthcare in the other
45:08 – “It’s such a good idea!”
46:22 – Building a long term relationship with corporates for funding
48:21 – Sponsored screenings
49:12 – Heavy hitting celebrity patrons
51:00 – Find out who the most active patrons are at MediCinema
52:06 – Is there a strategy for getting celebs?
55:21 – Are they looking for volunteers in specific places in the UK?
56:38 – The face of MediCinema at Guy’s
57:36 – Spreading the word and raising awareness
58:31 – Nicks’ experience starting as a Film Student and a volunteer
59:54 – Kat tells us about Nicks’ employment
61:53 – Experience with working with Hospital staff and dealing with the patients
64:15 – Inviting people to help out by become volunteers
65:11 – How many patients have they supported and accommodated this year?
66:10 – Closing comments from Toby and James
Kat: So really what we’re about is making sure that very unwell people can access cinema who wouldn’t be able to access it normally. They could have two hours of normality in their life and do something that you and I wouldn’t think twice about. It’s just not possible when you’re unwell. Except in our MediCinema. So it’s about that escapism and that social interaction that is so valuable and can really lift your spirits and help you feel better and help you then make you better quicker.
Narrator: Toby and James are involved in amazing events all over the world. You’re listening to The Planner’s Planner Podcast, where top event professionals share real world experiences and cutting-edge ideas. Sponsored by Metropolis-Live.com.
Toby Goodman: Hello and welcome back to PlannersPod. I’m Toby Goodman as ever, with James Eager. How’re you doing mate?
James Eager: I am good Toby, are you good?
Toby: Very tired after two very heavy gigs with Metropolis, but you know? All very good. Right, so before we talk about our guests today, James. I just wanted to ask you… We’ve been talking about the podcast quite a lot recently, and I just wanted to ask you how you feel about our journey so far?
James: I think its been a really fascinating journey. We started this off with absolutely no agenda, not knowing exactly where it was gonna take us. And I think there are two things which have particularly… quite a Marketing term– Our hot buttons a little bit. And it’s not actually so much the technical side of how events happen. Two things that really interest me, and I think I would say the same for you, is the training aspect of events. Is actually the journey that young professional would go on from starting to learn his craft and then going through getting his first gig. Then getting… rising the events ladder. We’ve watched quite a few event professionals do that from our work with Metropolis. But the other one– and I think the podcast coming up today says this too– Is the ‘why’ behind the event. Why do people actually do it? So often, we’ve gone into events and not known why. We’re just there doing our gig, basically. And we don’t know why! And the ‘why’ is what gives up context, isn’t it?
Toby: Yeah sure. I think certainly back in the day when we would kinda do our generic function band. So our behavior where would just be, but for an event, didn’t really need to know what it was about. But now I think we definitely are always involved in the why behind. Because people invest a lot of money, a lot of time in their events in order to deliver properly. We have to. We have to know why they’re doing it. Today we’re talking to people who’ve got a very very clear ‘why’, cause it’s another charity. We’ll get to that in a bit. It’s funny I was talking to the planner who is working with us on Friday night and, she was saying… I was complimenting her on the venue. I thought it was a lovely, really lovely venue in the central London it the city. I said, “Ah, this is great! I didn’t know this was here.” And she said, no I didn’t either. But as soon as I walked in, I knew that it was the right venue for for this client. and that’s because, the she knew, you know, she had the brief. And she said, “You know there’s loads of venues I knew about, and I knew they were kind of okay.” It’s a case of actually waiting until you’ve got a client to decide which venue you’re gonna suggest to them, or book hem into. And this was a classic example of her saying, “As soon as I walked into here I knew that this was the venue for Phil’s party.” And yeah, exactly right. You’re dealing with good event professional, definately is all about putting themselves in the client’s shoes first, to be able to deliver the experience that is unique and enjoyable and memorable.
James: I would completely agree with you there. It’s interesting that particular planner was talking to us a couple months ago saying, can you recommend a venue? Because they had a very bad experience with a very amateur one and had to change. I put forward what I thought was a cool venue. It was actually… do you remember that sort of trendy pub we did a wedding at in East London? Kind of really nice old London pub. Great, great vibe. And I thought that’d be a great place for a birthday. But if you compare it to the trendy bar that we had in Hoburne. Very different. Quite frankly I was wrong there because I didn’t know the own client like the planner did.
Toby: Yeah, that’s right. And if we think we did that place that we did that first event was quite a rustic feeling, and the one that we ended up in on Friday was very much, I would say contemporary and…
James: Should we name check it Toby?
Toby: Yeah it’s called The Fable. If you want to see a beautiful London bar venue looks like over a few floors, Google The Fable in London. I thought it was a really impressive looking venue.
Anyway, alright cool. So should we move on mate?
James: Should we move on? Could you tell me this week’s podcast is all about?
Toby: Okay so today I talked to a cinema manager, Nicks, and the charity’s chief executive cap mason. And the Charity is MediCinema. Now, MediCinema are a completely unique charity who currently have 7 beautiful cinemas that they run around the UK. But here’s the difference: The Cinemas are in Hospitals. So, things are rather different running, or screenings in normal cinemas. Once again this podcast was done on location as the Medicinima at Guy’s Hospital which is in Central London, just by London Bridge. So right in town, by the Shard which is our, I think I would say one of our newest skyscrapers. And because James you weren’t with me, I did have some operator issues with the sound equipment, but due to the sound proofing and the beautiful modern cinema, I think we luckily just about got away with it. And I’m sure it’ll be beautiful once you’ve cleaned it up in post.
James: Always make a backup, that was the backup.
Toby: Exactly. I should also give a shout out to Jess and Helena who are part of the MediCinema team, who met me at their office before we headed over to the cinema. They made me feel very welcome and we had a great chat, and they made me a nice cup of tea. So thanks very much! So… let’s talk about the events side of what they do very quickly. So not only are MediCinema involved in regular screenings, their 7 cinemas around the UK. But you should be aware they’re also involved in multiple fundraisers just like the Dream Flight guys. And they have real specialist knowledge in the logistical challenges that are involved in helping people with disabilities who get to enjoy what many of us take for granted. In this cae, simply going to the cinema. Also there’s some absolutely fascinating stuff around what it takes to install a cinema in a hospital, because its not as simple as just building one on a highstreet, or whatever. So, James I know you’ve listened to this so I’m gonna look forward to talking to you about it in the end. And without further ado, here’s my cat with Nicks and Kat from MediCinema.
Narrator: Planner’s Pod is Sponsored by Metropolis-Live.com.
Toby: So… we’re at MediCinema in a cinema. Where are we? In Guy’s Hospital.
Kat: Yeah in Guy’s Hospital.
Toby: Center of London, right underneath the Shard.
Kat: Yeah. Indeed. London Bridge.
Toby: In what I can only describe as, a beautiful, multi-colored cinema. Like it.
Toby: So, of the two of you. We should just find out your official Title. So… Kat?
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Yeah? So I’m officially the Chief Executive of MediCinema.
Toby: What does that mean?
Kat: Which means that I’m responsible for the organization. As it is, I report to a board of trustees who are volunteers and etc. But that means I’m responsible for finance, strategy, delivery, and then obviously my fabulous team work incredibly hard and make sure we are actually able to do what we do for the patients.
Toby: And how big are your team?
Kat: So we’ve got a team of 11 (I think it is?) staff. Part time staff in the majority, and a HUGE pool of volunteers behind that. Each site has got varying numbers of volunteers behind them, but is a very small core team and then cinema managers in each of our sites.
Toby: Right, and so it’s just at the office over the road, and they’re full time staff aren’t they?
Kat: Yes, yeah. So in the– in our little tiny head office here at Guy’s, we’ve got myself, we’ve got Helena who’s our development director, which is fundraising. Obviously it’s important that we can run the Cinemas and get the money in that we need. We’ve got Jess who’s who’s our Marketing and Comm’s manager. We’re currently recruiting for a national operations manager who will strategically oversee all of our sites. We’ve got 7 MediCinemas at the minute around the country, which is great! Nicks is my manager for one, well two of those in fact.
Kat: Two of those joined. And who else have we got in head office? We have got Yasmin who’s our fundraising and communications executive. And a very tiny part time, finance team who makes sure that all the money spent are very effective and reported upon.
Toby: Cool. So Nicks, your job is…?
Nicks: So I’m the general Cinema Manager for the cinemas at Guy’s and St. Thomas’ hospital. So there’s two of those hospitals that are in the same trust, so we have the cinema at each site. The one we’re sitting on at the moment. So yeah, I’m responsible for sort of, I suppose, running the cinema as well as organizing the volunteers, nurses. I have an assistant manager that works with me as well. Glen, who works part time. Yeah, I’m sort of responsible for being the face, I suppose, of the cinemas of each site and making sure everything goes smoothly all the time.
Toby: And this cinema we’re in now is like a custom built proper cinema… how many seats?
Nicks: So I think there’s 44, we also have wheelchair spaces here. But yeah, I think that’s 35… we have some seats at the front as well.
Toby: And you can get beds in here too, can’t you?
Nicks: Yes, you can get beds in our MediCinemas. So we bring patients down in beds and wheelchairs.
Nicks: Yeah, it’s amazing.
Toby: So the difference between Cinema and MediCinema is…
Kat: The setting.
Nicks: The setting!
Kat: And who gets to come. So really what we’re about is making sure that very unwell people can access cinema who wouldn’t be able to access it normally. They could have two hours of normality in their life and do something that you and I wouldn’t think twice about. Popping down to your local cinema and seeing Spectre or the latest blockbuster that’s just come out. It’s juts not possible when you’re unwell. Except in our MediCinema. So it’s about that escapism and that social interaction that is so valuable and can really lift your spirits and help you feel better and help you then make you better quicker.
Nicks: Yeah. I think we see a lot of people sort of come in, and the difference afterwards is quite amazing. It just sort of changes their experience being in hospital. Some people are in for a really log time, 6… 7 months. So the kind of expectation as well kind of, I think, keeps them going throughout the week if they know they’re gunna come somewhere like this.
Toby: And it does, obviously ’cause we’re doing a podcast and we will put pictures on our website to show that it is proper cinema, and a proper big screen and there’s absolutely no feeling that I’m in a hospital.
Nicks: Yeah, that’s what we were kind of looking forward. People sort of, come in and they feel like they can get off the wards and come in and talk to our lovely volunteers and nurses and just sort of get a bit of normality for a couple of hours. Like the healing effects of film as well and escapism, and also watching film with other people.
Toby: I was talking to the ladies in the office as well about the fact that obviously, because you’ve got ill people here, not very well people, you have medical staff in screenings.
Nicks: We have two nurses in every screening, just to basically, make sure the patients are cared for, if have everything they need. We have volunteers as well that bring them down from the wards, and also assist all the nurses. All my nurses actually work within the trust as well, but also working for MediCinema.
Kat: And that’s just really important to be able to clinically hand them over from the ward. I think what we would find is that a lot of the wards would be very reluctant to send, quite rightfully, to send patients that they thought that were too unwell. But because they know that we’ve got that really strong quality of care in the cinemas, they can let people go that otherwise wouldn’t be able to.
Toby: So you’re working really closely with the hospitals. You have to, right?
Kat and Nicks: Yeah.
Toby: And in terms of… obviously I can’t come into the cinema unless I’m at a hospital.
Nicks: Well, I’d let you in. (laughs)
Toby: Unless I’m in here. But normally no hunters from out on the street couldn’t come into this little cinema?
Kat: I should’ve said that actually– Families and carers, as well, could come with them. so it’s also about providing an experience that they could have together which again is every different. And we often hear from patients and their families about how difficult it is to know what to say to someone who’s unwell. How it becomes regular conversation that you’re just talking about pain or medication and all of that stuff, being very very ill. And actually, if you come and see a film together, that changes all of that. And suddenly you have a conversation about “Was he only good in that film? Oh I didn’t think so.”
Toby: Yeah! (laughs)
Kat: Something really normal.
Toby: So it provides the whole family with the opportunity with a little bit of normality. That’s so nice…
Kat: I especially love it where we’ve got kids and siblings.
Kat: Because, you know its really difficult. And especially to understand what your brother and sister is going through… and often parents have to really focus on the child who’s not very well, and often siblings get left out a little bit in that scenario. And if they can all come together and have a normal experience. You know, they might see the new Disney film, they might be seeing one of the things that’s out right now that all of their friends are seeing– with their sibling.
Nicks: Yeah, and they’re not missing out. I mean, I was at the Chelsea Westminster site on Saturday, and so we do a children’s screening there in the afternoon. Going around the wards, the lovely feeling of, you know when you say, “We’re from the cinema in the hospital.” and there’s that, “*gasp* Really?” Especially with the children. Especially. All the families came in, you know, 3D… with their glasses on… and it’s a thing they can do for the day, and then they can talk about later. And it really just kind of, makes that little stay– they might be in there a couple of days of whatever. So it just makes it a little less hard. And it’s such a great feeling for me. Like…I love it.
Kat: One of my favorites actually, was at the launch in Chelsea Westminster. We had a really unwell boy who was on a bed, and his sibling came with him. He must be about 7 or 8. And he came and actually laid with him and they watched the film together on the bed, hand in hand. And it was just, you know, it melts my heart every time. I’m gunna start crying. (laughs)
Nicks: Yeah, it’s really nice.
Kat: Yeah, it’s just so nice to have that normal experience together.
Toby: That’s Great… So, how big taking Guy’s must be on the biggest hospital in the country, no?
Nicks: In terms of… I know it’s one of the biggest. I mean… Yeah, I think it’s…
Kat: They do vary in… depends of what kinds of patients you’ve got. Guy’s and St. Thomas’ together, because they’re a kind of joint trust, is enormous in terms of patients, both in and out patients. Guy’s itself has more out-patients than in-patients, and St. Thomas is the other way around, isn’t it?
Nicks: There’s more wards at St Thomas’ and there’s lots of in-patients.
Kat: But the number of people come through the hospitals… being treated here and the specialisms that you have in Guy’s is extraordinary.
Toby: So my question, obviously is thinking– okay, it’s a beautiful cinema, it’s a little cinema… So how does ticketing work?
Nicks: Ahh.. Ticketing. We don’t really have a sort of ticketing policy really. I mean, so when we go and get patients from the wards, we have to go and see who’s, firstly, well enough to come, and who actually wants to come too. We never usually sell out, but there have been occasions where we had to… staff could come as well as a sort of perk. But we’ve had to turn some people away. It’s first come first serve, but patients are given priority.
Kat: Of course…
Nicks: And the staff work really well that as well, and they really enjoy it. And it’s, you know, just makes them feel like working part of the hospital, seeing the good work that were doing here. So no, its basically its just people turning up and then we let them in. So the patients are priority. In-patients and out-patients.
Kat: And you, Nicks, and your team do a lot of– and all the cinema managers on site do a lot of wandering round the wards. So there’s a lot of face-to-face talking with patients. You’d actually quite surprised– Well I was quite surprised when I joined. It hadn’t really occurred to me, but it makes perfect sense now seeing people who are very unwell. If you’re not very well, you don’t automatically think, “Oh yeah, I’d love to get off the ward and go down somewhere.” It feels very unreal. You don’t necessarily feel that you’re well enough to do that. So actually, we often we have to really make them feel comfortable enough to say… “Yeah okay, I really wanna do that and I feel that I can manage it. And I know that there are volunteers to take me, and there are nurses. And it’ll all be fine. If I feel unwell, I can go back or… ” But actually that fear is often quite a big barrier, isn’t it?
Nicks: Yeah, there is…
Kat: You’re real sales people as well aren’t you?
Nicks: Yeah, well I try, but it’s also I think they just don’t believe… A lot of the time they’re like, “No there’s not. We don’t have a cinema here.” I think they maybe think its a room with a TV. Which, its not. It’s a very big TV. So… I go around to the wards, around nurses as well. We always wear the same t-shirt so everyone looks the same with our branded logo on it. But yeah, it’s sort of the idea that they’re safe down here, they’re safe in our hands. They’re gunna have a really good experience and they’re in a caring environment, just like the wards. But a bit snazzier.
Toby: So how… So I think you told me how many screenings per week?
Kat: We actually have 18 screenings per week across all of the sites. At each of the sites, it varies. It’s usually 2 or 3 a week. Headley Court, which is our Military Rehabilitation Center, MediCinema down in Epson in Surrey actually just 3 and a half a week, so they have extra ones in there. And it slightly varies. It’s based on the needs of each of the sites. But across whole structure of the whole organization is 18 a week, which is, for me, fantastic. And it’s grown hugely in the past three years as we’ve added more sites. And we hope that it’ll keep growing and we can perhaps add screenings, and things like that. That obviously we need the funding to do that. So, we got a sort of glass ceiling at the minute, but that would be… of course it’s needed.
Toby: So, do you get the latest film and… once you’ve got that, presumably it’s just the case of putting it on and showing it. So, you’re limited by the fact that you need more volunteers to help just to take the screenings. Is that the challenge?
Nicks: It’s a challenge that I had recently actually, ’cause I’ve stepped into this post where I’ve been working with MediCinema since January as a General Manager but I’ve built the volunteer group up. I think on my list at the moment I’ve got about 60-70 people that come throughout the 5 screenings we do a week, and they sort of, just come whenever.
Kat: And they’re amazing. MediCinema couldn’t do what MediCinema does without them.
Toby: And where do they come from? Are they past patients or family of past patients…?
Nicks: Well, a lot of people are people that just want to do something. They wanna volunteer in hospital. Oftentimes they work, so we offer volunteer posts that are after-work time or weekend. And they love it! Also we do get a lot of people that have been a patient that have come back, or their friend or a family member has been a patient and they wanna give something back. Like most recently with one of my Evelina, the Children Hospital screenings. Her niece was in Evelina and she just felt that she wanted to give something back. It is such an amazing hospital, so she comes and volunteers every week with me now.
Toby: Yeah, I could totally imagine someone having this experience. Even though I’m not watching a film I’m going, “This is worth doing,”… and wanting to come back. How cool.
Kat: Yeah, absolutely. So it’s nursing, it’s volunteering, it’s also nursing staff. So making sure we’ve got that clinical care to manage our wonderful patients when they’re here. Safely. And then obviously our cinema managers time, and all of that, that goes into it. And then behind the scenes as well as– you say its as easy as a film turns up and it all works– it’s actually not all that easy. There’s all the bits behind it to make those relationships work. So we’re incredibly luck to have the support of the film industry behind us. Which again, MediCinema wouldn’t work without that. they donate the films to us for free, which is amazing. But even the logistics of getting the hard drive that comes, and the digital security key that unlocks the hard drive for the specific projector. It’s not a 100% straight forward, is it?
Nicks: No it’s…
Kat: There are technical challenges along the way.
Nicks: Yeah. Maybe the film hasn’t arrived on time or… you know…
Kat: There’s the logistics.
Nicks: Yeah. We’re usually very well prepared, and it all happens seamlessly.
Toby: Cool! Okay so… Essentially you have to raise a load of money… Before I talk about the fundraising– suddenly a table appeared out of nowhere that you’ve managed to pull out. I’m thinking… Okay so you have a certain amount of screenings per week.
Toby: Beautiful venue though, really. So are you using this for other things, you’re using this cinema room for other– for training purposes, is it?
Kat: Yeah, absolutely. One of the main thing is about when we actually install a MediCinema is that we want it to have dual use for the hospital or for events, for other things. So that the space isn’t just sitting empty and used three times a week, or what ever. Its for entertainment screenings. It really is part of the fabric of the hospital. So it can be anything from training doctors, training the next layer of doctors. The cinema that we’ve got at St. Thomas’ is mainly during the day, is basically a 100% in use.
Nicks: It’s always used, yeah.
Kat: By the medical school.
Nicks: Sort of in the evenings. But apart from that… yeah, always are used.
Kat: And then it might be other events for patients. So it might be for other arts groups, or arts programs that bring benefit to the patients, training… Here I was telling a little bit earlier on about how– not quite set up yet, but it will be set up– This will be actually enabling communication between hospitals, so that consultants can talk to other consultants from other hospitals, using the big screen and the projector. That sort of cellular level to diagnose, and to look at diagnosis and say yes we agree with that diagnosis. So, hopefully really supporting and augmenting the quality of care within the AHS and supporting the AHS outside of its immediate remit can be excellent.
Toby: So the reason being you’ve be able to… Bring cameras out in here that make it so you can really zoom in on a “cellular level”.
Kat: Yes. This cinema, we’ve actually got an incredibly high spec projector. Which is higher than our other cinemas, which has got a 4k projector or the 2k projectors to get technical. So you don’t need a 4k for watching your big blockbusters. You might love it cause it’s got really good quality. But for that kind of real detail, it does need to be a high level projector. So it’s not so much about having the cameras that would show you the level, but would beam something through that then comes out to the 4k. And then when you’re projecting it at that scale, you can see it clearly. Because we’re looking at an enormous silver screen as you, pointing at it now. Obviously you can’t see that.
Toby: Yeah, yeah.
Kat: Quite a big one.
Toby: Yeah, unbelievable.
Kat: And each of the sites are slightly different. So really about saying, what does this hospital need, what does this community need? How can we best fit in with that? What does this patient group need? And then working really closely with the hospital. And also looking at things like… Do we rent the space out as an extra way of earning income? You know, other relevance like that, that we can really use it to support what we do for the patients.
Toby: And there must be… Seeing what feels like a a brand new set. How long has this been in here?
Kat: This opened in December 2013, didn’t it? Right at the end of the year. So we’re nearly 2 years old! Which is exciting.
Toby: Right, 2 year old cinema, feels brand new to me in a hospital that is quite a lot older than 2 years old. Presuming that challenge is massive. You have to look at the building and the hospital and say, “Ok how can this work, where can we carve our cinema in this hospital.” And you’ve managed to do it! And I can’t believe it’s…
Kat: (laughs) It took quite a while, I could say. The planning process is usually quite a long one. But one of the things we haven’t actually talked about, which is really interesting when you’re putting a cinema into a hospital, is that you also have to think about infection control. So it’s not just putting it in that space and then running it with nursing. It’s what materials are you using. Are they cleanable with chlorine solution of specific type that the hospital used. You know all those elements are really that quite practical. But you might not necessarily think about unless you’ve got a Health background.
Nicks: Even down to the carpet apparently…
Kat: The carpet, down to the walls, down to– are there any things with shelves on that might accumulate dust. Interesting things like that.
Toby: Wow… So you’re not likely to find lots of old sweet wrappers here or…
Nicks: No we don’t allow any food in here. So yeah. (laughs) We do get some people… But no, we try and limit that as much as possible.
Kat: It’s a good point actually. Most people the first thing they say is, “Ooh could I have popcorn?” Actually no, because often you have meal by mouth patients so it’s the last thing you’d want to do is put someone chugging popcorn next to a poor patient that can’t eat at all.
Toby: Okay so lets go to the venue. So the History of MediCinema. Founded…?
Kat: Founded in… Well the idea came about 1996 by the fantastic lady called Christine Hill who is our founder. The first MediCinema at St. Tomas’ opened in 1999. So that initial period was really about seeing whether there was any scope for it to happen. Trying to get some insight from the film industry about wheather we could make something happen. And the real inputters for it was about… Christine was actually working the hospital before hand and had patients who were coming to her and saying, “Could you possibly wheel me out to just look at the sky or the river so something, because I’m feeling really bored and claustrophobic. And I’d just like to see something totally different. And Christine said quite rightly, “Of course I’ll do that. But I’m sure we can do better than that.”
She had some links in the industry and put some feelers out and the response was extraordinary. Which is fantastic. So here at St. Tomas’ opened in 1999, and that was a referb of a teaching building. And then the initial stage of the odd film here or there, and built up to a program a weekly program. And we learnt all about the nursing care and all of that. So we spent quite a few years building that up and getting that really embedded. Then started to have other hospitals who’d heard about it, coming to us and saying, “We’d really like one. What can we do to make it happen?”
So we actually then… the second one was actually up in Glasgow at the York Hill Children’s hospital up there. And our third one was the RVI Royal Victorian Infirmary in Newcastle. And They all happened within about the first 10 years. Then we thought, well this is a great idea, it’s working quite well. We’ve managed to go this far. Let’s try and see what else we can do. And more request come in and in. So it’s then more than doubled that in the past, but the more recent 5 years. We’re actually 16 years old this year, I think? And we now have 7, which is fantastic. And many more requests on the go.
Nicks: I’m sure… (laughs)
Toby: I guess it’s a different amount that you need to raise per…
Kat: Per site.
Toby: Per site. And so, how do you do the fund raising? Talk me through a typical journey of…
Kat: Good question. (laughs)
Toby: “I need a cinema here, in my hospital.” What’s the deal?
Nicks: How does it work?
Kat: Well, the fundraising for MediCinema has changed quite a lot since the very beginning. So the beginning, back in the end of the 90s a lot of it comes from gala based, you know, you put on a big glitzy screening of something. Some celebrities turn up and we then run an auction and that would fund all sorts of things.
That is happening less and less now. But our funding tends to come from a variety of sources. It’s private individuals and companies in the majority. And also were working with the hospitals that we worked with about… Most hospitals have their own fund raising program… if they want to come into the Hospital, how do we work together to raise the money. But we have fantastic corporate partners who either donate pro bono, or sign a check or do fund raising events as a company. And there are lots of individuals who similarly do the same thing. And we are very lucky to be able to… we get donated tickets sometimes, we get donated tickets to premieres which we can auction off, or raise money through the industry. But its quite a wide range of fund raising techniques. And in each of the sites, what we’re trying to do is build, keep building a really strong local pool of supporters and donors. Patients who come also do donate as well. It’s a free service for patients and their family and part of the main reasons for that is so that it’s not… No one is excluded from it, anyone can act as that therapeutic benefit that we know comes from it. So we do get donations through that. And then… people want marathons… I’m astounded at what people do. It’s amazing.
Toby: We asked this last question from our Dreamflight podcast, about what’s the most, nuts thing that’s someone’s done to raise money?
Kat: Oooh… good question! What the most nuts thing someone’s done to raise money.
Toby: Extreme or surprising or… “god you won’t catch me doing that.”
Kat: Good question. Well there’s a lot of things like skydiving and marathons.
Nicks: Half-marathons and marathons.
Kat: We have an amazing supporter up in Glasgow who, over a period of years, has been collects bottles from the bars that make iron brew. Collects the bottles and gives them back and then you get donated like a couple of pence for each bottle that you give back. And he’s raised an enormous amount of money.
Nicks: He was called Jimmy, wasn’t he I think? Jimmy!
Kat: The wonderful Jimmy, up in Glasgow. Over a period of years… And in that I would say is extraordinary. We’ve had like Tennis tournaments being organized, all sorts. People are so creative about what they do. They really wanna support it. It’s fantastic. And I actually, the more creative you are, the more it catches people imagination.
Nicks: Kilt-wars up in Scotland.
Toby: Of course!
Kat: Cycle-rides… all sorts. All sorts. Dressing up days…
Toby: So you’ve got cinemas open now. Have you got another one planned?
Kat: We’ve got quite a few in the pipeline. Yeah. I’m not gunna name any at the minute cause we’ve literally just opened two new ones this summer. So we’ve got a quite a busy year this year.
Toby: You’ve just opened one a couple of weeks back right?
Kat: Yes, we’ve just opened this year at Chelsea and Westminster in West London. And in Glasgow we actually moved our cinema from the Yorkhill Children’s Hospital. It’s part of a big move in the city. They’ve actually created an enormous mega-hospital that now has children, adults and a number of other services within it. And we therefore moved our cinema to a new site, which is really exciting up there. And that expands the patients that we can work with up there which is fantastic. So we can really be in the hub for that whole region. Which is fab.
Toby: And every time you do this you must learn loads about quirks of how to launch a venue inside a hospital, move a venue to another one.
Kat: We do, and at the same time each of the hospital is run by a different trust so they all work in slightly different ways. So you bring your set of lessons or learnings from the last one. And then, you have to make sure that you’re effectable because they do things in a different way as well. So it’s constantly a learning experience. We’ve got fantastic architects and contractors who work with us. A lot of the fit-out contractors do it all entirely for free so all of the acoustic paneling that you see here, 3D equipment, the carpets, the flooring… is provided for us for free which is fab.
Nick: And a lot of them are very passionate as well.
Kat: Yeah, and our architects do it for us absolutely at cost and throw loads of extra stuff in for us for free. And every time we run in a new site, cause they’re all very different, we take all of that into account and try and build a better, a more effective cinema for the patient group. So actually Chelsey and Westminster, we’ve got access from the back. So that the beds come in at the back, so they get the best view of the screen.
Nicks: Yeah, it’s amazing screen yeah.
Kat: We could do that there, but obviously, it depends on where you’re going… But what we tend to find in terms of actually doing that build, is that it’s quite… easy is not the right word, but it’s very tangible to see a blank space go to a cinema. And so fundraising for that is actually quite easy because you could also provide… You could put branding if it’s a company, they can put their branding up, they could put before the screening. Actually the ongoing challenge for us is running costs. So it’s making sure that that service carries on every week without fail for those patients. And that’s covering the costs of the cinema manager, or the ongoing technical… that is an ongoing challenge for us.
Toby: It sounds like when you’ve got something and you’ve decided to launch a new screen somewhere, you do have now a community of people. Cause so many times they’d go.
Kat: Yes! “We’re coming with you.”
Toby: We’ll do another one and they go, “Alright come one.”
Nicks: (laughs) Sign me up.
Kat: Yeah exactly!
Toby: It’s basically, from what I’m hearing… London is big but you’re gunna have some cross over with volunteers maybe in different cinemas. But if you’re going to do the city… definitely, suddenly now you need to create a whole community of people who get what Medicinima does and then wanting to be part of it, and you need to find those people.
Toby: And that’s a bit of a task, right?
Kat: Bit of a task yeah, it can be brutal. One of the fantastic things that we’ve got is that we’ve got a really good relationship with the film industry itself and with the cinema chains as well. So usually what you’ll find is that at least one branch, usually a cinema, is somewhere where we end up because it’ll be quite a large hospital. So we can find like-minded people near by, and then work out from there. The support we get from the industry and the cinemas is fantastic. And we hope that that would keep building and building. It’s a very obvious synergy. We’re here to help people who can’t go to the cinema, to access that experience. Actually what we often find is that patients might not of been used to go into the cinema before they come into MediCinema, and they often get love of cinema. On the back of the experience that they’ve had in hospital. Which is quite bizarre. And Certainly one of our volunteers now down in Newport in South Whales was one of the patients there. Absolutely loves films. Now does film blogs, film reviews, constantly go to the cinema regularly and also comes in and makes sure that the patients are able to access MediCinema. Which is actually lovely.
Nicks: Especially the Children’s screening that I’ve had quite a few small kids and its their first cinema experience. So we give it to them, which is really nice as well. Getting them used to…
Toby: It’s quite an old fashioned thing, isn’t it, the cinema experience now. Considering, I’m sat right next to an iphone and I could watch a film with it. And we know as people who are slightly older, having not been born with iphone in our hand or whatever. The actual experience is a pretty amazing and really…
Nicks: What I really like in– I’m a film studies graduate as well, so… but for me, the shared experience of a film watching… I mean, yeah you could watch anything at home on your laptop. But for me, the shared experience for everyone sitting in here, is really what makes it. And actually going to the cinema for me. I mean, I still go to the cinema, even though I work here as well. But it’s that whole event for me that I find really important. We’re able to offer that to everyone that comes in here.
Toby: So do you find that… We spoke about people, enabling people to have a little bit of a family outing. It’s lovely as well. So do you find that, perhaps some patients in adjoining beds or whatever would then… have a chat.
Nicks: It’s happened before. I can’t remember what film we were showing. I think it was one of the super hero ones, we go to the ward, it was at St. Tomas’. We go to the ward and there was a bay of say maybe 8 people would go. And there’s a whole group of guys and they all came into the cinema together. So they all came down together– cause we escort them in wheelchairs or beds– And then they go back, and that’s something for them to sit and actually bond over. Just creating more relationships. Also the volunteers that come in as well the create relationships– most of them are my friends. It’s just a great space to do more. It’s more than just watching a film. It’s like, under this cover of like, we’re putting a film on. But it’s so much more. In helping people, we do an out-patient screening now, which is what we’re going to do tomorrow afternoon. We get a lot of people who maybe are out-patients that are socially out of the loop. But they come here and see me, and the other people that come every week… and it creates such a nice space for them to escape. Not just in- patients as well. We’ve started reaching out to other groups. So yeah, we just put loads of posters around the hospital. We’re getting loads of people coming in. It’s great.
Toby: You’re really creating a… this little break out communities.
Nicks: This alternative space, that’s what one of my nurses, pediatric nurses talks about. She knows the importance of getting people, the kids, or anybody from the ward. And creating this other space for them to be in. It’s really important for their brain and their emotions while their in the hospital. And we’re offering that to them and the love it.
Kat: I think there’s something that you’ve touched on there that actually… I think what we do also heads out into the wards as well. People who might not have been to the cinema screenings themselves hear about it. It’s a conversational starting point.
Nicks: Oh yeah it is! Most of them say, “Ooh, well I’m off to the cinema.” “Well have a nice time ducky!” So you know it’s…
Toby: So it takes one person, and they’re all up.
Nicks: Yeah, they all wanna come down.
Kat: That enthusiasm that moves around. There are people here who are just too unwell to come down. But actually if you have someone that has been, they come back and explain the film to them. They might have a chat. This might be people who usually would draw the curtain around and not talk to anyone else who’s in the room. I don’t know how much time you’ve spent on wards, but certainly they are often very silent places with little huddles, with visitors or no visitors. But it’s a nice way to just break down barriers and have a chat.
Nicks: Yeah, breaking down barriers. It’s such a nice space to do it in as well.
Toby: You need a no spoilers signs between the curtains.
Kat: (laughs) yeah.
Toby: “Dont start talkin’ about our film I’m serious!…”
Nicks: I might actually start making some. (laughs)
Toby: Spoiler alert. You will be fined…. Yeah okay so, amazing. So… Talk about your ultimate visions and values. So what’s the end game? Is it a cinema in every hospital? In the world!
Kat: (laughs) That sounds like world domination to me. We would love that there be a Mecidinema wherever there is a need for one. That would be what we would absolutely love to do. I think we’ve got to think practically about it. Because obviously that’s quite a large vision, but I’m sure we could get there eventually. Certainly in the next 5 years we’d really like to keep growing what we do and to extend much much further. We’d love to get to up to 20 cinemas if we can in the next 5 years. I know that we can do that, and that would give us some really good coverage for patients around the UK. We would also really like to help export what we do internationally, if we can. Because, you know, a patient is a patient wherever they are. We’ve actually got a sister, were kind of doing a bit of a pilot, of having Madicinema outside of the UK, in Italy at the minute. With the sister organization there. I get requests through weekly. I was actually talking to Australia the other day. They come through really regularly. So we’d like to work at how we can best facilitate that.
Toby: Because it’s so new as a concept, you’ve become a little be of the authority on cinemas in hospitals in the world.
Kat: Yeah absolutely. MediCinema’s totally unique as an organization. There isn’t a cinema in a hospital, in that kind of setting that isn’t a MediCinema. And it’s partly because we’ve sit on this very specific position between, the Film Industry on one hand and the Healthcare on the other. We’re really bridging two very very different worlds and trying to make them work together in a way that actually works. We’ve learnt a huge amount for doing that for 16 years, and what we would love now to work out is how we can really make that scale up significantly more. We will get there, definitely. And it would always be a bit different in different countries, cause they’ve got different structures and ways of working.
Toby: Even different buildings. Like you’ve said, every time you do it, it’s different. So you have to just…
Kat: But the template is there, and the core relationships. The industry is very international and so we’d like to be able to see that scaling. Which I’m sure we can.
Toby: And you’ve seen the results. Which is much happier people and happier families post visit.
Nicks: Yeah. Everyone that just comes in and after they’ve watched the film. Even the nurses as well. All of them say, it’s such a good idea. It’s you know, you don’t need much to do it in terms of couple of nurses and volunteers… and it happens! And it’s an amazing event. And it’s an event every night we screen something. It’s just a great idea and it really works.
Kat: Yeah… absolutely.
Toby: That is cool… So, and again you just covered that following note, which is how you’re similar to other organizations, and it doesn’t seem that you are similar at all!
Both: No. (laughs)
Toby: You know how to work a projector, yeah. Like in cinema. But you also know how to deal with the fact that this has to be absolutely sparkling clean because of the help staff aspect. Rest of the team, you’ve talked about volunteers– Amazing. We’ve talked a little bit about the wacky funding, but also you’ve got corporate stuff. Very generous. So I’m assuming that, from a corporate point of view, you’re very happy to have more people donate?
Kat: Absolutely. We would always need donations. To keep the cinemas going, we always need donations. So we’re always looking to build. But actually when talking about corporates, and also just fundraising in general, we really are looking at building long term relationships with people. So it’s not just, oh here’s your check thank you very much, tick. Instead of what can you get out of this, what canwe help YOU get out of it. Is it staff engagement? Is it branding? What is it that you would really like to achieve, and how could we help as a partner to that.
Toby: So what’s a good example of that already happening where you’ve got a bit of reciprocal stuff going on?
Kat: We’re actually siting in the ICAP MediCinema at Guy’s, which is obviously funded by ICAP. 39:13 Which is a fantastic finance brokers in the city. Working with them has very much been obviously, they’ve donated towards this, and of course towards Chelsea and Westminster. And then working with them about what kind of reporting is beneficial to you from a corporate social responsibility perspective. Because they actually have quite a strong corporate responsibility arm. So it’s…
Toby: What does that mean?
Kat: Well it means they have a charitable stream, I suppose. In fact, one day year they trade on their floors with lots of celebrities. And everything that they… all the money, all the profit that they make goes towards charitable causes. Which is brilliant. So they then want to obviously, feed that back to their stake holders, they want to feed that back to their staff. It’s quite an enormous company. So from one end of the scale, and that would be priding engagement with some of our patrons. It’ll be photos of people in the cinema. It’ll be bringing it to life for their enormous employees. Or it could be to the extent that we might then hold a screening for one of the corporate, that they come and have a private screening once a year. Or that they can come and visit when we’ve got patients in. Which I think is actually one of the most powerful things. It’s actually being in the cinema when there are patients there.
Nicks: We do have a few sponsored screening. And some of the sponsors come in and reintroduce them. And the patients love it!
Toby: So you use this space as a little bit of a presenting.. Hey this is someone who’s…
Kat: And you put their logo up on the screen before hand, and you let the patients know that tonight has been donated to them by this company. And they might say a few words about why they’ve done it.
Toby: And actually we heard about you from working with the 72 Club.
Both: Oh yeah!
Kat: They sponsor screenings at Tommy’s.
Nicks: They did Cinderella and a couple of those… They’re amazing. Really nice guys.
Kat: Yeah, so we can do things like sponsor a screening, sponsor a seat, sponsor a patient ticket. There are all sorts of ways to bring it to life a little bit more. And very tangible.
Toby: And the other thing that you skipped across, but obviously I’ve had a good look at your website as well, that we should definitely talk about, are your patrons.
Kat: Yeah, indeed. We’ve got some very heavy hitters on there. (laughs)
Toby: Heavy hitting celebs.
Kat: Heavy hitting celebs, exactly. And they are patrons who have done a huge amount for MediCinema since we’ve first started. And we’re always bringing on new ones and looking at how we could work with them more and utterly do things– it depends on who it is of course, but they might introduce a private screening of their most current film. They often go and visit the cinemas and kind of chat with the patients and do a little bit of a Q&A which is amazing. They might invite us to the premiere, they might tweet about us. Something as simple as just tweeting about it. So we had our annual film industry quiz last week. And we had Alex Zane tweeting about it. And Craig Stevens tweeting about it. Which is great!
Toby: These are patrons…
Kat: All the celebs are involved.
Toby: Who are the other… Obviously, I understand the difference between a celebrity, and a patron. Who are the patrons? Is there a few or…?
Kat: There’s currently a very large list of patrons. Actually what were doing at the minute is working with our patrons about who actually wants to be patron and what that means. And who wants to be an ambassador rather than a patron. It depends on how busy they are, what they’re current filming schedule looks like. Cause a lot of them are either based in the States or spend a lot of time in the States, and then what they can do and give. But yeah, we get all sorts from them which is fantastic. Really fantastic. And it kind of brings a bit of glitz to it which is quite nice, instead of makes it very accessible for people who… we were talking earlier on about how… After this you WILL know about MediCinema. You might not know about MediCinema unless you’ve been in the hospital where we’ve got one. But actually, bringing externally and kind of explaining it to one of our patients is really helpful.
Toby: Totally… So who are the most active patrons at the moment?
Kat: So I would say… Probably Simon Pegg and Nick Frost? Who are fantastic. And they’ve got a particular attachment to Headley Court, which is our military rehabilitation center down in Epson. They’re absolutely fantastic. They actually opened that one. They’ve done screenings there, they’ve been down for special events, done visits. And that’s really really nice. They’ve got a really strong connection with that cinema.
And again that’s something we’d like to keep developing, is patrons attached to Cinemas and kind of feeling like it’s their own space. Visiting it regularly and getting a relationship with it.
Toby: So you can actually assign people. That’s cool.
Kat: And often they’ll come and speak at events. So say we’re offered to last year, we were the recipient charity of a gala dinner in London, and then you ask for one of them to come along and actually speak on their behalf. And again it just brings it to life.
Toby: So is there a strategy for getting Celebs or for these people that you found works. Do they come to you or…?
Kat: It really varies. Yeah, there is a strategy. I think being proactive about it, what you really want to.. What works best, I suppose, is getting someone on board and getting them to understand the concept before they really hit the big time. Because after they hit the really big time, everybody wants to say high. But you know, in the early days, certainly every acting celebrity that you talk to and you say about what were doing, they totally get. They TOTALLY get it. And then is a question of times. Timing, what the commitment is and all of that, and seeing whether it actually works for them.
Toby: And do they tend to be actors in TV types…
Kat: We have quite a range actually so we’ve got, actually not patrons at the minute– but we’ve had a lot of celebrity input from the sporting world previously. So we did a big million pound campaign quite a while back. Way before my term. We had Laurence Selalio on that, and some of them are kind of key sporting guys. Which again, it broadens the reach. And as we extend and expand that patron program we’ll hope to broaden that out as well. Because really what we’d love is that everybody in the UK knows about MediCinema as well, and understands it and it’s known. It obviously does what it says on the tin, but unless you know what that tin really looks like, because its so unique… Sometime people would go.. “What is that?”
Toby: You have to be in this unfortunate situation to discovering. What we need is to ensure people aren’t in an unfortunate situation. To know what it is and then start donating anyway, cause it’s so cool.
Kat: Yeah, exactly. And actually one of the other ways that we’re starting to do that is one of our cinema partners. It’s about them having materials out about us and taking collections and things like that. Again, because there’s such a synergy there. We’re here for people who can’t go to the normal cinemas. And so if you’re a cinema goer… People who are cinema goers to understand that and raise their awareness of us.
Nicks: Those who appreciate what cinema can do, then realizing that it’s important in these places as well.
Toby: So what are you looking for right now? Obviously you’re looking for donations.
Kat: Always. (laughs)
Toby: You’re looking for volunteers?
Nicks: Always looking for volunteers really, yeah.
Toby: Any specific areas in the UK that you’re looking for particularly needy?
Kat: So, Newcastle at the minute. I know our manager Josh is doing quite a drive up in Newcastle right now. Up in Glasgow because we have extended from just children to children and adults. We’re now building a adult service. So we’ve got a fantastic pool of volunteers up there but they’ll be really stretched to do all of the screenings that we’re going to end up doing, because we’ll increase our screenings up there are well. So definately there.
Toby: And a volunteer, just to be clear, could be a fundraiser and raise money and do something, but they could also just simply just help you get people in and out.
Nicks: When I first arrived, our volunteer role was really do be at the screenings and going collect the patients. Cause of course I’ve got a big list of people or I can’t do it by myself. So they go up, they’re TBS checked, so they can work with vulnerable people in hospitals. So we use the trust voluntary resources to help us do that.
But I’ve created the loads of other roles. Like, we have a gentleman in a wheelchair who can’t push patients in wheelchairs or beds. So I created another role for him which was just going around the hospital and being out face of MediCinema.
Nicks: You know, he comes a really long way to do that. And he does that every week for me, and we’ve built up a really good relationship and he gets a lot out of that as well. He’s helping people… You know, he just loves to chat, so he just chats to all the… He goes to every clinic and goes to the wards as well. And he just helps. and it’s having that face around that wears the t-shirt.
Toby: He’s got a space for branding on the back of his chair.
Nicks: Yeah! Got a little flag, the MediCinema flag. I’d go and pop it in. But yeah he wears his tshirt and he’s very proud of it. There’s other things as well for people who can’t go to the wards who aren’t well enough, but they come and stand with me hold the donation bucket. I just want it to be for everybody. It’s not mine, it for them to be a part of as well.
Toby: So for people who wanna be useful, they can. And you’ll find a way.
Nicks: They can do anything.
Toby: And enabling that. And it’s not all about jumping out of planes….
Both: No, no.
Toby: There’s loads of other things that you could do.
Nicks: Just spreading the word.
Kat: Spreading the word, raising awareness, being visible…. Hospitals are enormous places. They are huge. So footprint and the wandering, going from one place to another is quite an enormous task. So actually being visible everywhere is impossible. Unless you got enough people to do it who are consistent and are able to go out and spread the word. And another thing is we’ve got a number of volunteer role which a centrally, which is admin, fiance, things like that. A little bit less glamorous perhaps, but is essential to enable the charity to actually run and run at the scale the we want to and for the ambitions that we’ve got to get us to the next stage is quite a lot of work.
Nicks: I think what most people like volunteering is any… cause I started out as a volunteer myself here. But you know, it’s just the feeling that your doing something really good for other people, and getting something for yourself as well. But just to be part of it in any way and thinking… I’m helping this to happen at some level. It’s just good for everybody.
…I found out about MediCinema and I applied as a projection assistant, so basically running a screening when maybe the managers couldn’t be here to do it. Then I got the job as assistant manager, and then just sort of moved up. So yeah, I started out like that. I’ve just always liked being part of it. I’ve volunteered in other places as well because I just think… couple of hours of my time I could sit and watch TV, you know if I could just give that… and thats what I think what most of my volunteers think. I can change something for somebody. and I got a lot out of it. I’m very passionate about it.
Toby: Quite right. So Kat, did you directly employ Nicks or…?
Toby: So what are the things that stood out because I’m interested in… Because I’m thinking there are people that are also interested in getting into this field you would know… X people applied and this is what made the difference. What’s the difference?
Kat: We did have a huge response from when you first came on as assistant manager at Guy’s and Tommy’s. I think just very clearly, straight of the bat. A) experience and a clear interest in what we’re doing, but also personability is one of the most obvious things.
Nicks: Thanks Kat. (laughs)
Kat: You’re welcome Nicks. But you know, there’s a sense that you get, but I think our cinema mangers are kind of “wonder people”. So they have to do an enormous amount of stuff, and they have to be able to interact with absolutely everybody from, clinitians, top level clinitians and administrates of the hospital trust, to your nurses to your patients to very very anxious family members and patients, the volunteers helping them feel welcome. There’s a certain personality type that I think works really well with that and Nicks has it in abundance which is in passion, with drive and…
Nicks: Spades I have it in spades.
Kat: And that warmth that just comes straight across. And then obviously everything else about, you know, being able to do the job effectively, is secondary, but I think that’s the most important.
Toby: And Nicks so you obviously then have to talk to the patients and going “Come on in!” But you’re actually talking to the nurses and the doctors a lot before make checking that its alright.
Nicks: Yeah, but we never approach the patient. We always speak to all the nurses and have a great relationship with the nurses actually and I see them three times a week in all the wards and we need them to work with us as well because you know they are part of the process too. To see who can come because not everybody can. Some people are too poorly to come in. But yeah I go and speak to them and then it’s the patients I speak to, and sometimes convince them. Cause sometimes you do. Because they’re maybe not trusting or thinking I don’t know how this is gunna work… So its working with everyone and then the volunteers as well have to have that personability cause they need to speak to the patients too.
Toby: Presumably sometimes you get people that aren’t quite well, this week…
Nicks: Yeah then they might popup next week so… We ha a great story actually one of our nurses actually. all of our nurses are great ambassadors of Mecidinima as well cause they can see. A lot of them work on the wards as well, so when they actually come they they can see what’s happening down here. We’ve had one of our very capable nurses in and we had a guy… You wouldn’tt be able to take him because he’s attached to loads of stuff. We had to run cables around here while he was sitting on a wheelchair, it was oxygen, loads of other machines, but we did it! And the nurses really wanted the patients to come down cause its so important for them, for their well being in the hospital. They might be a little less grumpy.
Toby: It makes the nurses life easier.
Nicks: It does! We wanna work with them and its important that they know what we’re doing down here. We got the guy down and he had a great time!
Toby: Amazing… So, we know that you always need people. Specifically in Newcastle at the moment, and a little bit in Glasgow.
Kat: And everywhere. And even people to, you know, do events or hold a bucket or whatever it is…
Toby: They could just e-mail you and say, “Look I’m up for helping. This is where I live.” and they’ll be able to find out very quickly on your website which is…?
Toby: Well done.
Toby: Go there! And they’ll be able to find out where the cinemas are at the moment. They’d be able to say, “Hey I live near this cinema” or within reasonable traveling distance from the cinema, “and I wanna help. I’m not quite sure how.” But if they are sure how they can, they can do that as well. You’re up for that,
Toby: That’s what you need.
Nicks: But I just think, the more the merrier. The more that people wanna come on and help and join– its like a big ole’ family. Come in. Have a cup of tea, have a chat. Creating another community in itself. But if they wanna come, yeah. Bring it on.
Toby: I love it. Is there anything I’ve missed? Is there anything you want to say that I feel I haven’t asked…?
Kat: I think we’ve had quite a broad range in conversation, haven’t we? I think we’ve gone all round the has its…
Nicks: Yeah. (laughs)
Kat: Well I guess we talked about how many cinemas we’ve had but we haven’t talked about how many patients we’ve supported.
Toby: Yeah! Well so, do you know that number?
Kat: Yeah, so this year we’re gonna reach 20,000…
Kat: …and last year we’ve reached just over 16,000. So that’s a growth of over 4,000 this year. The year before that was about 11,000. So we’re constantly growing and extending it. When we were talking about vision I was talking about extending the number of sites, but actually what we also want to do is to extend the number of people that we reach in the sites that we’re in. And really extend the usage of the spaces that we’ve got. So it’s not just standing still where we already are and growing that ways. It’s all about continuing to build and develop what we already do.
Nicks: Building awareness I think.
Kat: And really building awareness.
Toby: So facilitating more screenings within what you’ve already got.
Toby: Okay. Well, that building awareness bit is what we’re gonna help you with.
Toby: So, MediCinema.org.uk/
Narrator: You’re listening to plannerspod.com.
Toby: Okay James, that was my chat with Nicks and Kat from MediCinema. What did you take from that?
James: Yeah, sort of looping back from the beginning where we talked about the ‘why’ of events. I think the ‘why’ is fairly obvious. Why they have to do events to keep their MediCinema operation in action. We can clearly see the benefits of what they do there. All the therapeutic benefits for the patients. Also very interesting, looking at how they use the dual purpose usage of their spaces. Are they correct for these cinemas. They are both cinemas and events places. And how they’re trying to constantly reach out for funding etc. to other parties. Last thing, I’m gonna keep this really short, cause we spoke quite a bit at the beginning of this podcast was Nick’s career path. It’s very interesting. Just the more these episodes we do, the more we see clear parallels going across some of the school basis that top events pros needs. They’re basically… Before she’s even got any I guess sort of the technically side of the job comes in. She needs to have huge passion for the job, and the people skills are absolutely just really really important. So, lots of fascinating stuff there. Anything you wanna add Toby?
Toby: Yeah totally picked up on Nicks’ career path. You know she started film, and then she got a job, I guess, initially because, she needed money, cause it was completely unrelated to what she studied, which was doing admin for I think it was for an MRI center scanner in a hospital. And amazingly, that makes her skill set completely unique. Presumably at the time without even knowing it. So I thought that was such a cool career path to say, yeah I’m used to working in hospitals and I studied film. It’s like the perfect job for her. And I know it’s the perfect job for her cause she told me. So it’s really nice to check out stories like that. Yeah, okay cool. That’s kind of it, really, isn’t it? So for more about MediCinema, you can go to MediCinema.org.uk/
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The podcast still directly available via iTunes and Stitcher, just search for The Planners Pod and you’ll also find accompanying notes in media, and links from this podcast, and of course, more about us on plannerspod.com
One final thing to you, our listeners.I have two questions in regard to your life as an event professional or an aspiring event professional. The first one is, where are you now? And what do you want to go in the next 12 months? You can answer those two questions by emailing me directly at email@example.com or through any link via our website. So those two questions again: Where are you now, and where do you want to be in the next 12 months? So, until next time. James thanks for that summary, and thanks for listening everyone. And we’ll see you next time!
James: See you next time.
Toby: Cheers mate.
James: Bye bye.
Narrator: You’ve been listening to plannerspod.com with Toby Goodman and James Eager. Sponsored by Metropolis-Live.com