Groundswell’s Homeless Health Peer Advocacy Service was recently announced as the winner of the 2014 Andy Ludlow Award and received the first prize of £30,000 in October 2014.
Three months on, we asked John Driscoll, a Project Worker at Groundswell, to give us his views on what it felt like to be an Andy Ludlow winner.
After several years of homelessness, John started volunteering on the Homeless Health Peer Advocacy (HHPA) service in 2013. John was then successful in gaining a job as a Project Worker with Groundswell in 2014. This role is funded thanks to the Andy Ludlow Award prize money.
It feels like it’s been a long time since the Andy Ludlow Award Ceremony – so much has happened since then! Getting a new job at Groundswell has made me so proud – I’ve proved that I can do something brilliant!
My new job is really interesting – I visit homeless service providers, such as hostels and day centres, to promote our HHPA service and work with new clients and partners. I run regular sessions to talk about health and how our service supports homeless people to make and attend health appointments – I also invite health professionals, such as student nurses, into these sessions to talk to our clients.
Service staff know me – I help them by getting clients to open up about their health needs, and support them to work better together. Clients feel that they can trust me and ask me stuff – I’ve been where they have and understand. When I got my new job, the clients could see that I’m progressing, and I tell them that if I can do it, then anyone can! You just need to motivate yourself to get out there and do something!
Groundswell also supports me to learn new skills alongside my work. I’ve learnt how to facilitate meetings, and now run my own meetings with teams of volunteers. Volunteering at Groundswell was great – it pushed me in the right direction and gave me the confidence to get my life back on track – but I was ready for a new challenge, a proper job.
Winning the Andy Ludlow Award has made such a difference to not just my life – but to all the homeless people we support. This year we are going to deliver 2,000 appointments supporting more homeless people across London to sort their health out! Knowing that I’m a part of this gives me such a buzz!
For more information about Groundswell click here.