Chloe Horton, UWE Bristol Mental Health Nursing Student
I feel very passionately about helping to protect the women One25 support.
One25 is a charity providing support for the most marginalised women in the Bristol community. Their service users are street sex working women. I have volunteered at the drop in where the women can access emotional support, a hot meal, condoms, underwear, a nurse, a GP and also caseworkers which have a range of specialisms including domestic abuse and drugs.
At the drop in I spend time in the kitchen serving the women and also talking with the women, seeing how they’re getting on and supporting them with practical tasks such as accessing their GP.
I more often volunteer on the outreach van which goes out in evenings to serve a particular area where sex workers work. Women can call the van, or we spot the women, providing them with a hot drink, food, warm clothing, condoms, harm reduction packs for drug users and emotional support. The women REALLY appreciate the van and the support they gain from it. Some women will just pop to the window and get their needs met and some women will come on to the van and sit, have a hot chocolate and a good old chat. The women are sometimes intoxicated and One25 work closely with local organisations to ensure the safety of the women.
As a student Mental Health Nurse volunteering has helped me develop my skills hugely. Just spending time with the women, that at times can be distressed, has benefited my practice. It has enabled me to gain more confidence and also to use the skills I am learning on my course with the women I am speaking to.
I have always been interested in working with vulnerable people and having now volunteered for One25 my desire to do this has increased.
I absolutely love volunteering and feel very proud for my albeit small part of One25.
by Bassmala Elbushary, BSc (Hons) Biomedical Science
There are numerous reasons why I wanted to volunteer. Firstly, I wanted to use my passion (helping others) to make a positive impact and explore where my passion can be useful. That’s why when I found out about the volunteering opportunity at FORWARD, I did not hesitate to get involved. FORWARD strives for African women’s rights and I was so keen to amplify the voices and challenges African women encounter. Furthermore, I wanted to get involved in change-making and have a positive influence on people’s lives. This could be from raising awareness to writing letters to MPs. Lastly, I wanted to meet people who have similar mindset and want to make a difference in this world.
How I got involved in volunteering
It was 2019 when I found out about FOWARD. My mother has a friend who knew the manager of the organisation and the organisation was promoting their volunteering opportunity. I was so keen to apply.
I got involved by completing an application form. It was open to all African women living in England and Wales. Then, I completed a three-days training in Cardiff. After completing the training, I became a youth fellow in the organisation.
During my training programme, I was asked to work as a group to find solutions to some of the issues African women face. At the end of the training, I was asked to create a social project.
For my social project, I decided to make a Facebook Live exploring the issues Sudanese women face and discussing solutions with them as a group. In the Facebook Live, I got my mother and my little sister to discuss their opinions regarding women’s rights. The Facebook Live was very successful as I had over 5000 views.
The second part of my social project was to hold a discussion group with the Sudanese women and men. I booked a venue, and I invited all the Sudanese women in my local area to discuss the issues Sudanese women face and I asked them to work in groups to come up with solutions. Then, I went to London and conducted a discussion group with the Sudanese men and how men can support the women and influence policy makers in Sudan.
I highly recommend volunteering to everyone because you gain plenty of experience and skills.
Primarily, my volunteering has helped the audiences that I gave my talk to about Sudanese women’s right and most of them agreed with the points I spoke about. The feedback from the discussion group were all positive. Some stated they ‘can make a difference’ in their lives. Others said they felt ‘empowered’. Secondly, some of the audience from the focus group asked me to conduct another focus group because they enjoyed it and found it very beneficial.
How volunteering has helped with my career goals
During my training, I developed my confidence to engage with wider audience and the support that I received from the organisers made me believe in myself. In my chosen career as anBiomedical Science Lecturer, I will need the confidence to perform presentations and focus groups.
I also learned teamwork and communication skills through the group work and the discussions I did. This links strongly with my chosen career because I will have to work in a team to conduct experiments/produce a research paper.
Most importantly, I learnt time management skills because I had a deadline to complete the social project by. Time management skills is highly favourable in my chosen career as all the work has a specific deadline.
Finally, I built a strong network which is very essential if I want to progress further. Having a strong network is vital for references and to gain advice from experts.As I became a youth member at the organisation, I am in the process of launching my own international project in Sudan developing the rural area. The organisation’s manager is supporting me to finalise my proposal for funding.
By Emma Powell, UWE Bristol Alumni. Emma is now District Nurse Team Lead and Single Point of Access Clinical Lead at Sirona care and health.
Nursing. What can I say? It is not easy, not glamorous but it is very, very rewarding. A cliché maybe but true nonetheless! I feel very proud that I have some fantastic experiences to reflect back on, some not so fantastic but they in turn proved to be important learning curves, not just in nursing but in life. And I knew from the beginning of my training I wanted to be a community nurse.
Back in 2004, I began my Adult Nursing degree as a mature student and I was terrified. I was the mother of three with a husband who worked shifts and I also have Crohn’s Disease; as I stood in the reception of Glenside Campus at the UWE Bristol, I asked myself – more than once – what on earth was I doing? I had loved my Access to Health college course but university … well, that was completely different. It made nursing real.
And so began my nursing career, something I had aspired to since I was 14 years old. It was a completely different world. I cannot express enough how it will change you as a person and how you view the world, life and people. I remember being told this in a lecture early in the course and it has never left me. My first year was a raw mixture of shock, horror, speechless wonderment and gratitude. I was tired, excited, happy, sad and enjoyed every placement I had – there is always something you can take from your experiences. I’ve helped to clear all kinds of bodily fluids, comforted, cajoled, supported and listened.
As the course progressed, I knew from my first community placement, that that is what I wanted to do. I found my niche, as they say. I discovered I could communicate well and adapt to whatever scenario I found myself in; I had a particular passion for End of Life Care and feel very privileged to have some fantastic reflections in that discipline. Nurse training gives you experiences and opportunities available in no other career and working as a registered nurse is a privilege and honour. The bad days are there, I won’t dress it up – times when you want to just walk away and scream, both in nurse training and working. I nearly left my course at the end of the second year; I was tired, fed up, drained, poor and for the millionth time, wondered why I was doing it. A tutor told me this feeling was common, and after all the support from my family I knew I had to finish!
I was lucky enough to get my first job in trauma and orthopaedics. Although I knew I was a community nurse at heart, typical of many students, I wanted to work on the ward to develop myself with confidence. Three years later I began community nursing and although I had confidence, there were so many different skill sets to learn. You never stop learning with nursing – even now, with a career as a District Nurse Team Lead and Single Point of Access Clinical Lead with Sirona care & health – there is always something to learn.
Which leads me to Sirona care & health’s Taking It Personally which is at the heart of our organisation. There are very good support systems for staff, whether you are struggling or doing something well, everything is recognised. There are policies in place within Sirona to support those times when life throws curveballs. I am also an author under the pen name of Louise Wyatt and was able to adjust my hours when my first book was published. My History of Nursing book has been supported by Sirona in their newsletters and communications; in fact, all employees who have another skill or achievement outside of work are supported. There are wellbeing, Continuing Personal Development and personal support systems – community nursing is hard and becoming more acute with a wide range of skills needed – and Sirona will support you all the way.
Taking It Personally for people in your care? Well, you are in a person’s home and you need to respect that; all you have to do is imagine it is the home of someone you love. That alone will guide your practice, even those visits that can leave you pressurised and emotionally challenged. The clinical, communication and personal skills that Sirona will help you to develop will prepare you for the future and allow you to thrive, both within yourself and for modern, highly skilled community nursing.