Reflecting on a successful BDTA showcase

Posted in: Blog, by kayleighb2a, on 21st October 2013 | 0 comments

Mark Topley, CEO

I’m in the UK office today after returning from a very successful BDTA Showcase in Birmingham last week. It was a great event in so many ways and coming back on the train on Saturday I was reflecting on how this event is often an annual marker on how far we have come.

This year the shift has been in awareness of not only who we are but also what we do. Thanks to the hard work that our volunteers do in training Health Workers in emergency dentistry so successfully, together with the commitment and professionalism of our UK and East Africa staff teams, we have built a reputation for effectiveness, and credibility.

Due to this, we are now being approached by more of the leading companies in the dental industry who want to offer support and partnership. This in addition to having built and maintained relationships with our Corporate Friends over the past seven years.

One of the highlights was definitely the BASH! on Friday night, when 600 people had a fantastic time at the Hilton Metropole and raised a lot of money for us. The evening started with an intimate reception for the core of the B2A family – those supporters and friends who had contributed significantly to our success in the past year and longer. Then the trade and profession filed in to a sell out event which was a huge amount of fun. One of our core values as an organisation is friendships and relationships, and I’m so pleased that we were able to once again host an event that gave delegates and exhibitors the opportunity to get together and let their hair down.

As well as this support, I was really pleased with how our work of communicating what the real issues are in the developing world when it comes to oral health, dental pain and volunteering has made an impact. From 50+ discussions over three days, I believe that people now understand:

  • That volunteering is a good thing to do, for personal and professional reasons it’s incredibly rewarding.
  • That there is a difference in effectiveness and long term impact between the sorts of work that can be done. Sustainability and training in particular are key.
  • That dental work in developing countries should NOT be about what we want to give in the short term but should ALWAYS be about what will help communities in the long term.

Having been successful in getting these messages across, I also found that there were some things that hadn’t yet got through. What I think we need to work harder to communicate:

  •  That people do still die from untreated dental infection, and so access to extractions is the most fundamental priority
  • There is a hierarchy of dental needs, .and access to simple pain relief is the top priority. Not only for the humanitarian reasons to end suffering, but also for economic reasons as the number of work days lost to dental pain is enormous.
  • That since 80-90% of communities in a developing country live nowhere near a dentist or dentally qualified person, something else has to be done to meet their needs, and that’s where we should start.

These are the messages we’ll be focussing on helping people to understand in the coming months.

Thanks to everyone who came along to see us at Showcase, to the people who bought tickets for the BASH! and to the companies who offered support. As we continue to add new members to the wonderful Bridge2Aid family, I’m excited about what we can achieve together in the coming year which will once again give us some terrific things to reflect upon when we get together again in October 2014 for the next BDTA event.

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