Keeping in Touch with Reality!!
Hey all. My names is Angelo and I'm one of the clinical volunteers. Currently working as a staff nurse within hywel dda.
Being somebody who was brought up in South West Wales, dealing with visibly homeless people was never something I really had to do, and found the thought of working with the homeless quite daunting.
However, this all changed when I was a student nurse, and was given the opportunity to spend the day with the amazing Janet Keuffling who was the nurse for the homeless in Swansea, and this is where my passion for helping the homeless began. Then I came across Donna's twitter page, a cheeky little slide into her DMs and that was me arranging to start volunteering with the homeless hope group.
The first one I attended was Swansea, I was welcomed into their voluntary group, like I was joining an extended family. The day started by getting everything organised ready for the session to begin, emptying cars, which were full of shoes, clothes, sleeping bags! I remember thinking how the hell have these ladies managed to fit all that into these tiny cars, but we all know the determination of a woman! Ha ha!
As I was still a student nurse at the time, I couldn't do anything clinically hands on, but was involved with sorting out proper shoes and making sure they had warm clothes to go back out onto the streets, but more than just giving them things, I was there to have a chat with them, something more powerful then giving them items, its amazing what a proper conversation can do for somebody. The homeless often spend their days sat on the street, being ignored as people walk past them as if they are invisible, we are all guilty of it, and we've all done it, but just think how they must feel.
The one day that stands out in my mind is the Newport session, by this time I was qualified and was able to get stuck into the clinical side of the group. Myself and Donna went for a walk to find a certain gentleman who was reported to be sat under the bridge. When we finally found him, we could instantly see that he needed help. There we were sat under a bridge, taking down his dressings, I had never seen legs so bad, this poor man had septic ulcers, but had sadly disengaged from services, it was clear this gentleman needed urgent iv antibiotics, or he would die. With lots of persuasion, he agreed to go back into hospital! Without the dedication of Donna who is our clinical lead and without this group, there is no doubt that this man would of died! Donna inspires me every day, to be the best nurse possible. Listening to her story of how she was once homeless to then becoming a nurse, well it makes you speechless! Go read her blog and you will see what I mean. We all have the power to make a difference though.
Who are we to judge, not one of us will ever know their full story completely, be that person who sits and listens, treat them how they should be treated, with dignity and respect. Working with a homeless support group humbles you, it brings you back down to earth and in touch with reality. It makes you appreciate what you have and shows you the difficulties those living homeless have. I am so lucky to be able to use my nursing ability to do this, and even luckier to work with the amazing Homeless Hope group, please do come and join us.