Homeless people in Northampton have benefitted from advice and support from University students who stepped up to volunteer at a local shelter.
Nursing students have been helping out alongside their lecturers since February at the Pastures shelter based at the New Covenant Church in Northampton.*
The shelter has been providing a warm, safe refuge for up to 10 homeless people a night during the colder months. Guests received an evening meal, a bed for the night, somewhere to do their laundry, attend to their personal hygiene and could also have breakfast there.
Students and University lecturers were on hand to help monitor guests during the evening and breakfast shifts by helping out with the general running of the shelter.
When needed, the team also provided health and well-being checks, provided a friendly ear for guests and signposted the vulnerable to appropriate support services.
Their impact was felt almost from the start. Joe Lutwama, a second year Mental Health Nursing student explains how he put his training to good use: “I applied my nursing skills to assess one of the guests who was suffering from severe abdominal pain and struggling for breath.
“I was advised that he had a long-standing complaint but I was concerned enough about him to investigate a bit further so we sat down and had a good talk, letting him direct the conversation. Just being there to listen was enough.
“I did his ‘observations’ – which meant checking his blood pressure and other vital signs – and found some abnormalities. An ambulance was called and they arrived to take him to hospital.
“Volunteering with Pastures has been a real eye-opener. It was such a good experience, I signed up for more volunteering shifts straight away and I’m happy to have played a part in helping someone. It’s been a pleasure to be part of the University team that helped out this winter with the homeless and the only thing I’m sorry about is that the placement is over!”
Nursing students complete 2,300 hours of clinical placements whilst being exposed to 24-hour care seven days a week, alongside their theoretical training during the three years of a typical degree.
The students who volunteered at Pastures were able to add this time to their placement hours thanks to an agreement between the University and the shelter.
Shelter opened in December and runs until 30th March as an initiative between the church and Shine Development CIC. It is hoped that it will open again later in 2019 for the winter months depending on funding and they plan on extending the support they provide.
The expectation is for the nursing team to continue working with the shelter.
Ayo Dgunbuyide, manager of the Shine Development Concept CIC added: “The University has sent us over 40 students and staff to volunteer on the project. They have shown commitment and friendliness and support to our guests.
“We are very grateful to them for their kind gesture and look forward to many more years of collaborative working for the progress and development of our community.”
Find out more about nursing courses at the University of Northampton.
*Senior Lecturer in Nursing Peter Stuart is pictured above with Kunle Olatunji, Pastures Project Administrator.