Homeless people in Northampton are receiving health advice and support from university student nurses who have 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.
“It was such a good experience, I signed up for more volunteering shifts straight away”
The shelter has been providing a warm, safe refuge for up to 10 homeless people a night during the colder months, said Northampton University.
It noted that guests at the shelter 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, said the university.
When needed, the team also provided health and wellbeing checks, provided a friendly ear for guests and signposted the vulnerable to appropriate support services, it said.
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Joe Lutwama, a second year mental health nursing student, highlighted how he had put his training to good use.
He said: “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,” he said. “Just being there to listen was enough.
“I did his ‘observations’ and found some abnormalities. An ambulance was called and they arrived to take him to hospital,” said Mr Lutwama.
“Volunteering with Pastures has been a real eye-opener,” he said. “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.”
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.
“We are very grateful to them for their kind gesture and look forward to many more years of collaborative working”
The shelter opened in December and runs until 30 March as an initiative between the church and Shine Development Community Interest Company (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, said: “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,” he added.