To relieve distress or hardship however occasioned for medical students studying at UTAS.
The Medical students were struggling, they lost 2 colleagues to suicide a few months apart, one at the end of 2017 and one at the start of 2018. 2 other students have died in the last few years also.
The 3rd year medical students of 2018 wanted to start an initiative that was able to help students in stress and help them relieve the distress. We explored different options and decided direct gifting was promising. We had tremendous support from a core group of 10 doctors and about 10 members of the public to initially raise $16,000 between March and July 2018 in ad hoc donations. We registered as a charity and received deductible gift recipient status in recognition of this important work; which also means all donations are tax deductible. We have no overheads, we are all volunteers and 100% of donations goes to the students.
We did not realise how much need there was going to be and we have raised a total of $35,216 and so far distributed $31,255 which the students have used for food, petrol, utilities and car repairs. We have granted this money to 117 students who communicated an immediate need for assistance and requested help. Some of the relief is in the form of supermarket vouchers which can be used immediately by students that have no food. The students can request amounts between $5 and $300 for any need. We do not require the student to declare the need if they choose not to disclose.
This is what some of the students have fed back to us:
“Receiving the Sportula microgrant greatly reduced my stress on how I would be able to pay for my meals for a considerable period of time. This allowed me to focus more on my wellbeing and studies.”Med I
“Without the help of Sportula I would have been forced to drop out of my course; the financial assistance helped me afford the essentials so that my study could continue. I will be forever grateful for how Sportula has helped me.” Med I
“My Sportula grant helped me go to a conference I otherwise wouldn’t have been able to attend. I am so grateful for this grant as it gave me the opportunity to extend my learning and help prepare me for my intern year. Med V”
“I received a grant to buy a 2nd hand wetsuit. This has helped me to reduce my stress and increase my mindfulness. Thank you sportula for all your help.”MedV
“I received the grant on Monday. Thank you so much. This has made a big difference especially in alleviating some anxiety about the unknown.” Med V
“Thank you so much, this grant has made me so happy as it has allowed me to give back to a friend who has been helping me through difficult times and done so much for me, without having to worry about using money that I will need for necessities in the future.“ Med I
“I also just wanted to say thank you- this is incredible generosity in solidarity. I have been so fortunate to have kept my head just above water for the last 5 years, and recognise that this is just a crappy time financially and that it's almost over. Work is coming! And I genuinely look forward to the day where I can contribute back into the fund for the next batch 😊.” Med V
“it means a lot I think at the end of it, it's because there's someone on the other end, that's why I messaged.” Med II
“The Sportula grant for Mother's day enabled me to treat my mother, who supports me through my degree, to a fabulous lunch and a great day out, without stressing about the cost and affordability. The presence of Sportula also eases my mind and makes me feel a little better, because I know that in an emergency, I will be able to get some help on covering unexpected expenses and occasionally treating myself, something which I used to take for granted when I lived with my parents, but as a medical student far from home, don't anymore.“ Med II
The students are not expected to pay their microgrant back while they are students but are encouraged to contribute back once they have graduated.
Reconnecting with the students in this way has been rewarding for us and I encourage other doctors to contribute because this is our next generation of doctors.
I am asking for donations because the needs of this cohort are ongoing and I hope you can help.
I hope you come on board, I would keep you up to date with the help we provide with your donation. We can keep the students happy and make their life less crappy and hopefully help to prevent any further suicide.
Meg McKeown May 2019
Sportula Microgrants acknowledges the Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the first inhabitants of the nation and the Traditional Custodians of the lands where we live, learn and work. We pay our respects to Elders past, present and future.