Groundswell’s Homeless Health Peer Advocacy Project has been shortlisted for this year’s Andy Ludlow Awards. We asked one of their volunteers (now a staff member) Gerry to tell us her story.
After several years of homelessness, I started volunteering. I thought that this would be a good way to get back into a routine and I also wanted to help other homeless people.
I started working with Groundswell, and in 2011 applied to become a Peer Advocate on the Homeless Health Peer Advocacy programme. After an application and interview I was accepted.
Groundswell offered intensive training which developed my commitment to help other people. I learnt lots of things, but perhaps the most important was to shut up and listen to what people say! In my experience this is the number one skill for understanding what our clients need!
I was one of the second intake of Peers and since then four more intakes have taken place we have moved to bigger and better offices and the number paid staff have multiplied. I am proud to be one of them. After some time as a Peer Advocate volunteer I was appointed as a Project Worker – a paid member of staff. The three years that I have been at Groundswell have flown by.
My passion for helping the homeless is as strong now as it was when I started and it’s a joy to see the Peers that follow me have the same commitment. I must have been doing something right when I was training them!
Groundswell and I have grown together and I reckon we have got the recipe right: we encourage our clients to be more confident and be able to advocate for themselves. I can honestly say I’m proud to be part of the team.
I’m thankful to Groundswell for encouraging me to grow and for giving me the self-confidence and respect that everyone deserves.
For more information about Groundswell click here