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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.  We asked Gerry Dickson, a Project Worker at Groundswell, to give us her views on what it felt like to be an Andy Ludlow winner. 

After several years of homelessness, Gerry started volunteering on Groundswell’s Homeless Health Advocacy (HHPA) service in 2011, before being appointed as a Project Worker, a paid member of staff, in 2013.

I was so nervous and excited to be invited into the Speakers House for the awards ceremony. The Groundswell team were enjoying the magnificent surroundings as we waited anxiously for the announcement. When they finally read out our name – I hugged everyone within sight! My team pushed me forward to the front of the crowd and I improvised a speech about what this means for Groundswell and me – but I was so happy I can’t remember what I said now!

Everyone at Groundswell is thrilled that our Homeless Health Peer Advocacy service – supporting homeless people to access vital healthcare – has been recognised by a prestigious Andy Ludlow Award.

Health is such a serious unmet need for homeless people. The key to the success of our service is that it is delivered by volunteers and Project Workers like me.  With our own personal experience of homelessness we can build relationships with people that some consider ‘hard to reach’; helping them to address their health needs, and build their skills to access healthcare independently.

What I love about my job is working closely with people, and making a difference to their lives. We run regular coffee mornings in homeless services, including hostels where I chat with residents and staff and about accessing healthcare. We also work with health providers to increase their understanding of the issues homeless people experience when trying to get their health needs met

Groundswell’s HHPA work has expanded rapidly, in response to growing needs. This year we are on track to deliver 2,000 appointments, supporting homeless people to access healthcare!

The Andy Ludlow Award will really help Groundswell to bring our work to new boroughs in the year ahead and we plan to expand our support to more homeless people across London.  I’m so proud to be a part of that!

For more information about Groundswell click here.

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